Friday, June 16, 2017


2 Corinthians 13:11(ESV) "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. "

I love the words of this translation when holding it up in light of friendships and relationships. Through that lens, those are lofty words! Let's take a few minutes and consider the beauty and weight of friendship and how we can reflect Jesus in all of our relationships.

Friends are the family we chose. Proverbs 17:17 says "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." And Proverbs 18:24 says "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Our friends, those we truly let in, let see the real us-good and bad-are there for us, loving us. And it's not difficult to live out the declarations of this verse. Yet, it is very important that we chose our friends wisely. For who you spend time with, you become like.

That truth can go either way-build you up or tear you down. "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17 There is such beauty in friendships that are God honoring, pushing each other to grow in Him and reflect Him more. It doesn't mean things are always cheery and happy, though. Sometimes sharpening requires tough love, but always spoken in love.

The flip side is also a real possibility in friendship-tearing you down. "Do not be deceived: bad company ruins good morals." 1 Corinthian 15:33 It really does matter who we let into our life, who we let speak into us. While we need to be investing and pouring into others with different beliefs and morals from us, we must do so with extreme caution and prayer. "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?" 1 Corinthians 5:6 A small, undetectable amount of influence can have tremendous impact on our life.

Now, in talking about how friendships affect us, it's important to consider what kind of friend we are. Do we push others to be their best in Christ? Lift them up in their strengths? Encourage them in their weaknesses? Or do we cause division? Stir up discord among the body? This is vitally important to consider in all of our relationships, not just friendships.

The body of Christ, the church, is so beautiful and unique. We all bring different things to the table and they are all equally important. We have an enemy, though, who seeks to destroy our diversity and create division and discord among the body. Do not fall into that trap.

"But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together." 1 Corinthians 12:24-26 We are a beautiful picture of the many attributes of God. While we will not have close friendships with everybody in our life, we can honor God through the love and respect we extend to the body of Christ.

Consider your friendships. Are they good, healthy, life-giving friendships? Or are there some friendships you need to remove from your life?

What kind of friend are you? One who builds up or tears down?

Thursday, June 8, 2017

2 Corinthians 13:11

"Dear Brothers (sisters), I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you." 2 Corinthians 13:11(NLT)

I'm sure we have all had instances with other people, especially as women, where we feel like the outsider, outcast, unwanted. We know from Scripture this is not God's design for the church at all. We are meant to live in unity, harmony and love with one another.

I have the opportunity to lead women's ministry at our church and when I think about the women there, I get so excited! I see a desire to be real with one another, vulnerable, walking through the good and bad of life in real time together. And I am encouraged by them and this verse and charge to live this way. Let's break this verse down and apply it to our everyday life.

-Be joyful. Life isn't always happy, easy or fun. But, we have the true source of Joy available to us always-Jesus. We can walk through hard, unhappy circumstances, but tap into the Life Source and experience and extend joy to our situation and those we are around.

-Grow to maturity. We have to dig deep into the Word. Meditate, pray, spend time intentionally growing our relationship with Him. Then we can share that growth and maturity, sometimes by default, sometimes intentionally, with others and encourage one another to press in deeper to Him.

-Encourage each other. Life is difficult. The critics are always ready to pounce on us and point out everything out we are doing wrong. Even in the church. Let's instead encourage one another. Take the time to really see one another, look into each other's lives, see how we can come alongside one another and offer encouragement. This literally can be offering a helping hand, offering a word of encouragement or a simple smile. There is some way each of us can encourage somebody else and we all know the tremendous impact that can have on our day, week or even month.

-Live in harmony and peace. It takes less than a minute looking online to see we have very strong and differing opinions about what others should or shouldn't be doing. But we see right here that we are called to live in unity and peace with one another. We must remember that we are all made in God's image. We are His masterpiece. When we really mull over that, we begin to see beauty in each and every person. We then are able to celebrate and encourage our different personalities, different opinions, different ways to doing things because we see unique pieces and attributes of God in each person. We will never see eye to eye on everything, but we can always strive to live in harmony and peace with one another.

-Then the God of love and peace will be with you. That's what we want. We want God with each one of us. Because a relationship with Him is the important thing in life. When we are joyful, growing in Him, encouraging one another, living in harmony and peace, we are creating an environment for Him to move and use us to reach other to others who need Him. Let's passionately chase after Him and bring as many others along with us as possible!