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Truthfully, this could actually take a month full of Sunday’s to fully talk about relationships, because of the complexity of the subject, and the nature of these relationships, especially when it comes to our relationships with others and with God.
But what I’d like to do in our time together is to kind of give a cliff note edition.
Relationships are an area we all struggle with and in. They can reach the greatest heights, but also become some of our lowest lows. But if handled the way God has outlined, that is, the way of love, they can literally be the greatest experiences, and joys we can have.
But where love is missing, they can be extremely challenging, as it says in Galatians 5:15 that if we bite and tear at one another to devour, then we need to be careful that we don’t get consumed in the process.
Now, if we were perfect, then relationships would be easy, because we would never have to go through the difficulties and struggles that accompany them. So, when the trials and tribulations come in a relationship, when we’re overwhelmed by hurt and frustrations, and when we just don’t care anymore, what are we to do?
And so today, I’d like to talk about some practical advice about how to make relationships work, when everything around us is falling apart, as it is presently with the pandemic, which has basically cause civility to go right out the door.
1. Thank God for Differences
God made us to be different, as He said that such differences is what makes the church the body of Christ. None of us are the same. We even think and act differently.
Now, these differences can be the source of great delight, but also incredible agony. God made us different, and He did it on purpose. And He didn’t just do so physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. We think, work, shop, and even watch TV differently.
In fact, if we find someone who thinks just like us, we need to run the opposite direction. They’re an alien. It is also said that if two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.
In fact, God created men and women to be different in marriage, but not to frustrate, which sometimes it seems like that, but He did so to complete and fulfill each other.
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7 NIV)
So we need to thank God for how He has created us differently.
2. Go To God with Disappointments
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2 NIV)
Love always makes allowances, not excuses, but allowances. Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to stay in whatever has messed us up. But what it does mean is that it’s okay to take the time necessary for relationships to work.
But to love and to make relationships work, we need to go to God where we’ll understand that none of us are perfect. And please understand that we’re all going to be disappointed in our relationships. I mean we think that we’re going to have a perfect marriage, house, yard, and kids, but life is not a hallmark card. Life is not perfect.
And so to get through we need to take these disappointments to God, because only God can meet those needs that no one else can, and that’s because no one is perfect, only God.
Speaking of love, Paul said that love “Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8 NKJV)
And so, where do we find the strength to not give up, to endure though every circumstance? It’s only God. So we need to let Him give us the strength and power to love others. Because it’s only God’s love working in and through us that enables us to endure and never give up.
3. Trust God Instead of Feelings
Let me just say right off the bat that feeling are deceptive, and that’s because they can be manipulated by Satan, and therefore, feelings can and often do lie to us. And this is especially true when it comes to our relationships.
And so, instead of trusting our feelings we need to trust God, because He will never lie.
“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good.” (Numbers 23:19 NKJV)
And so, if our relationships are going to survive, we have to choose to love, and not leave it up to the way we feel. And this can only take place when we trust God over our feelings.
Way too often we talk about love as something we fall in and out of. It’s like we enter into these relationships like that old children’s song, “You put your right foot in, you take your right foot out, you put your right foot in and you shake it all about.” That’s how people enter into and out of relationships, and why we end up so shaken when they don’t work out.
And so instead of trusting our feelings we need to trust God and His word of promise, and then repent, that is, turn away from our worldly feelings and give our relationships and ourselves fully to God. Look now at what God blesses us with when we do.
“Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored.” (Lamentations 5:21a NKJV)
4. Ask God for Directions
God created us for relationship with each other and with Himself, so if there’s a problem it’s best to go to the expert to get expert advice, because God is the one who created us.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting.” (James 1:5-6a NKJV)
And so, when it comes to relationships, we need to go to God to get His advice, to get His take on who, what, when, and where. And what we are told is that God gladly gives it to us.
And God communicates this to us in several different ways, but it all begins with prayer, and then taking the time to listen to what the Lord is saying.
Now, one of the best ways God communicates with us is through His word. It has incredible wisdom, and that’s because God has authored it.
Take for example who date and marry. God’s word says not to be unequally yoked with those who do not believe in the Lord (2 Corinthians 6:14). You see, someone who is not heading in the same direction spiritually as we are leads to some very difficult struggles.
Now, this doesn’t mean that we divorce our spouse if we’re married, because God’s word also says that God hates divorce, and that’s because of the incredible pain that happens due to divorce, from our personal lives to that of our family and kids.
Another way God speaks to us is through others, especially through those that He has so gifted, like counselors and spiritual leaders. The Bible tells us of the wisdom of such action.
“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14 NKJV)
And so, instead of going it alone when it comes to relationships, let’s go to God and get His wisdom for whatever we’re facing.
5. Let Jesus be Our Example
There will always be times when we’re not going to understand, or make the right choice. And so, we need to go to the best source of inspiration and guidance out there.
Jesus Christ came into this world not for His sake, but for ours, to show us the way and to give us an example to follow. In fact, the Apostle Paul tells us to let the same mind that guided Jesus, be in us as well (Philippians 2:5).
In his letter to the Ephesian church, Paul said, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV)
And when we see just how much Jesus has forgiven us, then it gives us the strength to forgive others.
Ron Flores, past pastor of Meadows Fellowship, and who has spoken here on several occasions, gave a quite striking description of this. He tells a story of when his wife, Paula, would make her famous French toast. It was the kids’ favorite. But as they got older, they would begin to push and shove to be the first.
Thinking that this was a good time to teach a spiritual lesson, Ron told his boys that if Jesus were there, he wouldn’t mind being the last. At this point Ronnie told his bigger brother, “Randy, you be Jesus.”
And so, in the situations that we face in our relationships, who is going to be Jesus?
And so to conclude our time together, let me leave us with this Bible verse.
“Let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (1 John 3:18 NLT)
Wednesday Evening Bible Study