Tag Archive for relationships

Loving Difficult People

We who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. (Romans 15:1, NASB)

Lord, I’m glad to love and serve other people…as long as it’s convenient and reasonably comfortable. I’m willing to give a little money to feed the hungry.

But You want me to bear with those who are weak in other ways, ways that may be inconvenient and uncomfortable for me. You call me to love those are who struggling with emotional scars, blind spots, moral problems, and disordered lives. You call me to be compassionate when hidden fears cause unpredictable and volatile reactions.

Lord, You have always fully accepted me, with all my problems. Help me do the same for others.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Your Thoughts, Your Words
Printed Music & Lyrics

Live Love

Imagine a world where everyone loves everyone else, sincerely, from the heart.

Imagine a place where people speak of each other only what is true, and only what will build each other up;

  • a place where everyone treats others the way they themselves want to be treated;
  • a place where self-centeredness, greed, and fighting are gone;
  • a place where people live each day as joined to everyone else, as part of each other, as members of one body;
  • a place where gentleness and kindness are highly prized;
  • a place where forgiveness, patience, and forbearance are the norm;
  • a place where need is no more, since each person shares what they have, freely and unafraid;
  • a place where everything, everything is done in love.

Wouldn’t you like to live in such a place? That’s the kind of world our Creator is building. And that’s the kind of life He wants for you. He wants to grow it in you. He wants to help you live such love in your home, on your job, in your neighborhood, among your friends. And He wants to start today.

But how could anyone live such a life in this world of greed and brute force? What’s more, how can we live that kind of love when selfishness is so deeply rooted within us?

The good news is this: God is love (1 John 4:16). Our Creator is love. The One who designed this world designed it for love. The One who designed us designed us for love. Love is our purpose, our heritage, our destiny. Love is the rich life, the full life, the natural life that He is giving to every one of us.

A life of love is not an heroic feat of self-control. As we trust Him simply, step-by-step, we grow in Him. As we grow in Him, He grows in us. His love grows in us. It begins as a tiny seed and grows into a beautiful tree that gives shelter and nourishment to everyone around.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Lord, You Are Love
Printed Music & Lyrics

I Lay Down My Life

Bear one another’s burdens, and
thereby fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2, NASB) 

Lord, there is one near me who is
carrying a burden too heavy to bear.

Lord, please help them.
Lift their load.
But can I pray this way without being willing to help them myself?

God, please help them, and
use me however you choose.

Lord, use me
to lift someone’s load

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Be Love in Me
Printed Music & Lyrics

I Bring that One to You

Love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.
(Luke 6:27-28, NIV)

Father, I bring that one to You –
that one with whom my relationship is strained,
that one who arouses angry or bitter feelings in me
every time I think of them.

Bless that person with
Your wisdom and
Your presence.
Bless them with the full and free forgiveness that You have lavished on me.
Bless them with Your smile,
Your patient forbearance,
Your beautiful, life-giving renewal.
Bless them with all Your very best.

And Father, our Father,
keep me quietly humble
before them and
before You.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Your Thoughts, Your Words
Printed Music & Lyrics

Let Me Love You in Others

One day a Pharisee asked Jesus a question in order to test Him:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 

[Jesus] said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. 

“The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 22:35-40, NASB)

Lord, as I grow to love You more,
as I rejoice in Your personal presence we me,
help me recognize in those around me
Your Spirit,
Your likeness, and
Your love, so passionately poured out.

let me always treat them
as those most precious to You.
I love You;
let me love them the same.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: The Greatest Commandments
Printed Music & Lyrics

More on Stewardship

A steward is one who handles an owner’s property as the owner would want it handled. In a day when slow travel and communication created many absentee business owners, the steward was responsible for making daily decisions as the owner would make them.

As God’s stewards, how are we to manage His resources? What is important to Him? Sure, He wants us to value and respect His ownership too much to waste what He has entrusted to us. But penny-pinching and maximizing profits are not the essence of the stewardship He desires. Remember, He can create anything He wants by simply speaking the word.

What is important to Him? Where does He want His resources focused?

God is love (1 John 4:8). Love is precious to Him. People are precious to Him. Look at the way He spent His one and only Son. He was willing to sacrifice what was most precious to Him for the good of His people.

If we want to please our Owner, we must treat people well. That means everyone: family and strangers, friends and the unfriendly, next-door neighbors and people across the globe. God is love. If we love Him, we will love those He loves. They are all unspeakably dear to Him. He asks us to love them all as much as we love ourselves.

This “golden rule” isn’t some secondary, optional commandment. It is the prime directive. And there is no business exemption. He doesn’t say, “Treat people the way you want to be treated, as long as they treat you fairly” or “as long as it doesn’t cost too much.” Jesus said that loving God and loving other people are the two greatest, most essential commandments in all the world. Everything…everything…hangs on these two commands. (Read Matthew 22:34-40.)

Further, if you want to please your Owner, trust Him. He treasures the simple faith of His children. Trust Him with every need and every concern. Words of trust aren’t good enough. He wants you to prove your trust by the way you use His resources.

In summary, if we want to be a good steward and please the God who trusted you with His resources, use them to love people. That’s how this Owner wants His resources spent. Treat people as He would treat them. And show God that you trust Him by the way you spend what He has lent you. Remember what Jesus said:

“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things [the necessities of life] will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33, NASB)

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Listen to Love
Printed Music & Lyrics

Hard Changes

The Big Showdown.
I know I am right!
So much seems at stake.
The opponent is tough,
but my cause is “just”.
Everything within me strains forward,
strengthened by fear.

Yet the object feels more and more immovable,
so large that I can’t even see around it.
Righteous indignation fuels my frustration and anger, and
confusion sets in.

Then I remember that You, Lord, are here with me,
and I turn to You for solace and direction.
In Your presence, I begin to see the situation in a new light.

Lord, if the change should be in me,
if the real obstacle is my ignorance, and
the only things at stake are
my ego and
the comfort of the status quo,
soften my heart;
pull down my pride.
I open my clenched fists and
spread my arms to You,
bowing in Your presence.

In Your mercy, grant me
a trust that is willing to turn loose,
a humility that is gracious and joyful,
a Spirit that ever longs to give and heal.

But the lingering unknowns?
The hurts and unresolved fears?
I release them to you, my Savior, resting in
a wisdom that is always selfless and patient, and
a justice that overflows with mercy.
I know You care for me –
for me, Lord,
and that is more than enough.
I love You, my God!

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8, NASB)

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Glorify Your Name
Printed Music & Lyrics

Good to All

The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
(Psalm 145:9, NIV)

When someone else is “lucky,” I sometimes feel a little jealous.
It’s not a storm of jealousy…just a whisper.

But God has many children, and
He is lavish with them all.
They are my brothers and sisters,
dearly loved by the One I love.
Because they are dear to Him,
they are dear to me.

I see my Lord in them.
I love Him in them.
I serve Him in them.

There is no place for jealousy.

Lord, let praise always be my reaction to Your goodness.

I will rejoice in all our blessings,
even when they fall on the next person,
not on me.

Hold on to Love

Peter came to Jesus and asked Him this: 

“Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22, NASB)

Paul spoke to the same need when he said:

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. (Ephesians 4:31 – 5:2, NIV)

Those we love sometimes hurt or disappoint us.
The cause may be
a misunderstanding or
human weakness or
plain old selfishness.
Even the highest human love sometimes falls short.

When that happens,
we can let bitterness and anger sweep in and
widen the separation.
We can put at risk the love we’ve held so dear.
Or we can hold on to that love with both hands.
We can continue to reach out and
seek to understand.
Even in our own hurt, we can do what love is designed to do:
focus on the other person rather than ourselves.

When we forgive this way,
we not only let the other person experience the beauty of God’s love,
we experience it ourselves.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: The Joy of Forgiveness
Printed Music & Lyrics

Speaking and Listening

Father, I need Your Spirit living in me constantly.
We need Your Spirit in each of us, and among us.
But we hear Your warning:
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. (Ephesians 4:30, NIV)
Do not cause Him sorrow or pain.
Do not destroy the joy He has planted in you.

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire (1 Thessalonians 5:19, NIV).
Do not hinder His working among you.
Do not ignore His wisdom or frustrate His love.

Lord, how do I grieve You?
What do I do that causes You pain?
Ephesians says:

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body…Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (4:25, 29-31, NIV) 

I grieve You by what I say to my fellow believers.
I wound You with words spoken against
my brothers and sisters,
words that are careless, angry, hasty, and self-serving.
When I hurt any member of Your Body, You feel the pain.

And how do I quench Your Spirit?
What do I do that hinders Your work?
In 1 Thessalonians Paul tells us:

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil (5:19-22, NIV).

When I fail to listen when other believers speak,
When I turn them off without hearing them,
I may be ignoring You.
For Your words don’t usually come to us
through a booming voice from heaven,
And prophecies are not just predictions of the future
thundered by strange men dressed in camel’s hair.
But through ordinary human lips Your Spirit speaks
Your guidance, warning, comfort, and love.

Your precious wisdom is delivered by
Your children.

Savior, help me cherish Your presence
in each of my brothers and sister.
As I speak to them,
may I always do so with the love I owe You.
As they speak to me,
let me listen from my heart and hear
Your voice,
my loving Lord.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Do Not Grieve the Holy Spirit
Printed Music & Lyrics