All of us need encouragement. We need somebody to believe in us. To reassure and reinforce us. To help us pick up the pieces and go on. To fuel our flame of determination as we face the odds against us.
Email. Internet. Video. Texting. Tablets. Smartphones. The list never ends, does it? As technology advances, real human connection becomes harder and harder. If we’re not careful, each new gadget can draw us further away from the family of believers God designed us to be.
If you want to experience a close community with other Christians, you must first escape the trap of superficiality and to develop tight bonds that will feed your soul and mature your spiritual family.
Just as a river without the boundaries of the shorelines can become a devastating force, love without discernment can sweep away the reality of sin and the power of grace. John’s letter to a lady and her children provides for us guidance as we seek to balance truth and love.
Let’s start living as good neighbours to the people God has placed in our paths. To help us begin doing that, let’s eavesdrop on a conversation held in the street back in the first century between a lawyer and the Lord.
If we take Solomon's counsel to heart, two are better than one, we learn how to survive lonely, desolate days.
Once the still, small voice of God nudged those words into my mind and heart I knew my loitering with my grudge must come to an end.
How would you define hope? In what way would your definition apply to a local church? What if hope were missing from a congregation? Would anybody notice? We’ll think about these and other things as we allow Peter’s words to guide us into the truth about hope. These passages of Scripture suggest several ingredients that must be present if hope is to remain a vital part of a church’s life.
Christians are unwise when they remain out of touch and live in secrecy. Being responsible includes being accountable, not just to God but also to one another. If carried out in the power and under the control of the Holy Spirit, accountability can be one of the most secure and reassuring facets of our Christian experience.
Joshua's final speech can be summarized in three words: “choose for yourselves” (Joshua 24:15). These three words apply so perfectly to us today as we consider how to build congregational relationships. In the final analysis, we either will or will not pull together, grow deeper, and become a caring body of believers. It’s really up to each of us to choose whether or not to bond with other believers.
Centuries ago, as God led the ancient Hebrews into the Promised Land, He specifically instructed them to clear the territory of the foreign tribes and to rid themselves of the influence of Canaanite civilization. From this example, we can draw an analogy for today. If we truly desire to grow deeper, pull together, and go further than skin-deep superficiality in our relationships, we must remove those things that hinder true community.
Where can Christians turn when we’ve been pushed around, misunderstood, and bruised with adversity? The answer for us today is not unlike the answer for the ancient Hebrews. Following God’s Law, they set up “cities of refuge”—pockets of security and protection, where healing could happen. Places of spiritual refuge are just as needed today.