Tag Archives: walking in faith

Protecting the Unity in Relationships

When it comes to relationships, I strive to protect and maintain the unity within them. Why? Because relationships consist of people, and people matter to the heart of God (and to mine as well). Within His very being we see relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And relationships matter not only in heaven, but also here on earth (as God’s creation). God Himself has overwhelmed us with a relentless love that reconciles us to Him, which serves as a powerful demonstration of the importance of unity.

“Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:3-6

As Christians, we must invest well into the lives of the people God has given us because relationships matter. Yet, the idea of protecting unity within our relationships is commonly glazed over in today’s world. Often, we turn relationships into a means to achieve our own happiness. When they no longer work out for us, they are gently (or sometimes harshly) pushed aside.

What if we instead decided to honor God in our relationships? What if we took this privilege seriously as an opportunity to steward and invest in human hearts? I venture to guess that the resulting impact in our personal communities would be a harvest of rich fruit in the form of loyal, trustworthy, and honest friends. And God would be pleased.

Have you ever come across a person who has left behind a trail of broken hearts and bitter spirits? They can be found in ministry, the workplace, within your own group of friends, and, yes, even in dating relationships. What do you think has happened along the way? Likely, the culprits neglected their relationships by choosing not to fight and protect the unity within them. For many this is dangerously (and unfortunately) commonplace.

“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11

After our relationship with Jesus Christ (our first priority), the second most important relationship that we will experience here on earth is in marriage. And you will have to fight hard to protect that union. With an almost holy-like maliciousness. The marriage covenant is the first place the enemy will try to attack. If he can create division, he can then create death (often in the form of a hard, bitter heart or the act of divorce). Porn creates division in the marriage union. Consistently choosing to hangout with friends over spending time with your mate creates division. Unforgiveness creates division. Criticism of your spouse (to others and/or to them personally) creates division. Constantly working long hours at the job creates division. Selfishness creates division. Being rude or mean to one another creates division.

“But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls.” Luke 11:17

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

And (wait for this one)…thinking bad thoughts about your spouse (but never openly and prayerfully communicating) brings division. Disunity will always begin with a single thought in the mind. Always. Thoughts then rapidly build upon each other, and before long you find that you don’t really like the person you’re married to anymore.

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” Romans 12:16

No career, ambition, life-long dream, or ministry vocation is ever worth pursuing in exchange for the marriage. If your marriage is less important to you than it is to God, then you may need to seriously reevaluate your heart. Unfortunately, many of you may find yourself living this truth as you read this today. Some of you have treated your spouses with such contempt and disdain that you see them as a bother (or thorn in your side) at times instead of the treasure that God has made them to be. Yet, the problem is not so much your spouse as it may be your own thinking.

I say this often, but I will say it again: you and I will never enter into a covenant with a ministry, a dream, or a vocation. If you are in any ministerial (or really any secular) position today and your marriage is hurting, then you need to drop everything that’s demanding so much of your time and energy to focus on that sacred relationship. Next to your walk with Christ, your marriage is of the utmost importance. In fact, marriage is the very representation of Christ’s relationship with the church. His love for us was more important to Jesus than life itself, and we must have the same mindset to protect unity within the covenant.

“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Matthew 5:23-24

However, similar truths also apply to our friendships. Perhaps you have a friend that has hurt you or a family member that has disappointed you. Please heed to this warning: If you do not protect the relationship, then it will begin to die. A relationship is either growing or dying; it cannot stand still. Forgive the offense and do whatever you can to maintain unity with one another.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:13

God cares about relationships. Unity is incredibly important to Him, and He commands us to protect and defend the people that matter the most to us.

Join me tomorrow as I candidly share what God has taught me about specific steps we can take to protect unity within our communities. And please share this message with anyone that you believe could be encouraged by it. Thank you for choosing His Daily Dose today!

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Hot tea in hand, I open the Word to Matthew 14:29-33. And something simply delightful catches my eye.

A pattern I hadn’t quite seen in the past. Let’s take a look.

“‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith, he said, ‘why did you doubt?’ And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’.”

Stepping out of the boat. And walking on water.

And no floaties are needed.

The story begins with His voice. He asks us to do something. Not just an ordinary something. A radical something. A something that goes against all logic and rationale. And many times against our own emotions and perceptions.

Start a ministry. Leave your job. Write a book. End the unhealthy dating relationship. Go to counseling. Go to rehab. Make new friends. Pray with your boss. Or even better, just sit still and abide in Him. He asks us to do these things at times.

“My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 NLT

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 NIV

Look at the example here. Peter understood gravity made no exceptions: you step out onto the water, then you sink. This is logic. And I’m pretty confident everyone in the boat knew it too. Yet, Jesus went against the limitations of the human mind and demonstrated His sovereign power.

And He will do the same for us when we follow after Him. Regardless of what others in our boat are thinking.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 NIV

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

Despite the irrationality of the situation (or so it seemed), Peter responds. And asks the Lord for confirmation.

Jesus is faithful. So, he gives Peter the confirmation he’s seeking in one simple word: “Come.”

I interpret this as:  “Yes, you’ve heard me correctly. Do what I am asking of you. Trust me, I am leading you.”

Then the scene shifts.

Peter gets distracted. The wind’s blowing. He’s feeling some opposition. This act of faith becomes more challenging than he thought. And he takes his eyes off of Jesus.

“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.” Proverbs 4:25 NIV

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3 NIV

In looking at the waves, Peter begins to sink while Jesus is standing just a few feet away.

“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6 NIV

Just grasp that for a second.

How many times have we done this? We’re following Jesus in faith in what He’s asked us to do. And “Bam!”, an unforeseen challenge arrives on our doorstep and we begin to doubt. I believe if Peter would have kept his eyes on the Lord, those big waves and that strong, powerful wind would have felt more like a summer breeze. It’s when we focus on our troubles and not on Jesus that we become afraid. And we feel overwhelmed.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 ESV

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2 ESV

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 ESV

Yet, check out the mercy of Jesus in this situation. In despite of Peter’s mistake, Jesus takes him by the hand, and pierces his soul. “Why do you have such little faith?’, Jesus asked. He didn’t pat Peter on the back and say “Don’t worry, just forget that ever happened.”

Why?

Because He loves us and He knows in order for us to have a life of greatness, we’ll have to live a life of faith. We have to follow Him, completely.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 NIV

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:3

“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10

It was Jesus that calmed the storm in Peter’s life. And it’s Jesus who will calm yours as you fix your eyes on Him. Remember with Jesus; no floaties are needed.

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When Faith Sustains, No Floaties Are Needed

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How to Hear God's Voice

This article is a re-post so if you have an interest in learning how to hear from God, may your heart be encouraged through this post today. Enjoy, beloved!

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“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 

Ever wonder what it’s like to hear God’s voice? Every single day?

I have.

After years of seeking out ways I could hear from this King of Glory on a consistent basis, I’ve come to realize a few things about Him.

1. God desires to speak to every believer’s heart. And every one of His children have the ability to hear from Him. This truth has brought me great comfort over the years.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17

2. God can choose to speak in many different ways. Some examples of these are listed below.  And keep in mind, when He does speak, that message will always align with His Word and bring Him glory.

  • Nature
  • The Mouths of Others
  • Holy Scripture
  • Visions and Dreams

In my walk with God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit as my comforter, I have discovered that they all require time. Allow me to elaborate.

Think of any friend you currently have in your life. It can be a spouse, a best bud, or even a sister. And think about your relationship with this person. Do you two spend valuable time together? Talking on the phone, chatting over a meal, discussing important topics over coffee, or taking a stroll. Regardless of how and where you both communicate, the point still remains: you do in fact communicate. It’s a healthy and mutual exchange of thoughts and ideas. 

We can all agree that without any communication, the relationship would suffer. We also know that time and effort are invaluable resources in the growth of anything good: a job, a marriage, a friendship, a ministry, and even a relationship with the Eternal God. And we can often forget that God Himself (as our supreme and sovereign Creator) has a heart with feelings and a mind full of thoughts (as we are made in His image).

Take your aforementioned friend as an example. Would you feel compelled to share your deepest thoughts with this friend if they decided to forsake the relationship? Meaning they no longer made a real effort in getting to know you? Does God want to speak? Absolutely. He is bursting with great ideas and ways to bless our lives. The question isn’t if He’s interested; instead, it is whether we are interested.

  “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jeremiah 33:3

During my time as a missionary in Australia, I attended a Discipleship Training School. One of the lectures was focused on hearing God’s voice. Allow me to share four obstacles that can hinder us from hearing God’s voice:

1. Sin – There is nothing than cause serious static in hearing the voice of God like sin. Because He is Holy, He can have no part with it. Again, it’s not that He isn’t speaking; instead it can often be that we can’t hear. Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and repent of your sin. He will be faithful to heal you, and to restore you to Himself.

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

2. Listening, but not Hearing – We can approach seasons in our lives where God is speaking, but we don’t like what He is saying. So, we ignore it in disobedience and go about our lives, continuing to pray about everything else except for that one specific area. An example could be the following: God is speaking to you about dissolving a dating relationship, but you’re not quite ready to let go. You have fun with this person, and they make you feel good. So, you ignore His instruction because it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient. And you’re left wondering why your relationship with God and with this person is beginning to suffer. A good point to remember is this: if your horizontal relationships are hurting, then take a hard look at your vertical one.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.” Psalm 32:8-9

3. Ebb and Flow – One of the most mysterious factors of being in a relationship with God is that He sometimes chooses not to speak. It’s not that you cannot hear Him, but that in His great wisdom, He withdraws from your daily conversations. Why would a loving God do this? Because it draws us closer to Him. King David was known as ‘a man after God’s own heart,” yet he was often incredibly frustrated with the the fact that he was no longer hearing from the Lord. But, it was these seasons of silence that lured David into a deeper dependency on God. Just as a stream ebbs and flows, so will our relationship with God. No need to freak out when He stops speaking. Simply ask Him. Cover your bases with the top two points to make sure nothing is going on within your heart, and then draw to Him.

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.” Isaiah 55:1-3 

4. Time – As mentioned before, this is probably one of the most consistent factors in whether we hear from God. It’s simply boiling down to the question: “Am I making time?” If we approach the Father and recite our list of “wants” and “needs” in a short five-minute prayer, but later wonder why we’re not experiencing deep intimacy with Him, then I have to ask the question, “are we really being fair with our expectations?”

“But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.” Psalms 1:2 

This is a relationship, beloved. It’s being with Jesus. And allowing Him to be with you. You both talk and you both listen. It’s a healthy, thriving, reciprocated relationship where both parties feel loved and valued. This is what it means to be with Jesus

And I promise you that as we stop and take time to listen, we’ll begin to hear Him speak.

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