In good friendships, status disappears. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you do – or don’t do – for a living. You simply connect. Jesus told his disciples that their relationships should be based on service, not status. When we enter into a relationship with a servant attitude, we’ve taken the first step toward establishing a great friendship.
1. Evaluate your friendships. Are most based on “What’s in it for me?” or are you leaning toward “We would do anything for each other?”
2. For you, what does a servant-based relationship look like? Think of some examples.
Challenge: Consider your best friend. How can you show appreciation for their friendship by serving them? As you put your idea into action, tell them how much you value their friendship.
Would you say that you receive way too much encouragement every day? Yeah, probably not. One of the primary reasons we gather as the body of Christ is to encourage one another. Encouragement is food for the soul and should be a key part of even casual relationships – and certainly vital to practice with those we consider our best friends. Fortunately, there are many ways to pass on the gift of encouragement.
1. Can you think of a time in your life when the encouragement of a friend or acquaintance made a difference in your life?
2. In your friendships, do you tend to be more the encourager or the recipient of encouragement?
Challenge: As you talk with your friends this week, and even as you go about your daily routine, be especially sensitive to those you encounter who could use an encouraging word. Be that encourager!
This passage is frequently recited at weddings to illustrate the importance of keeping God, the third strand, woven into our relationships. Our spouse is often our best friend, and we can draw great comfort and strength from their friendship. But we also need other strong, God centered relationships as we deal with the pressures of life and celebrate the joys. We are better together, and these key relationships need to be nurtured.
1. How would you answer the question, “What kind of a friend are you?”
2. As Pastor Doug stated last week, good relationships involve both receiving and giving. Are your primary relationships mutually beneficial or largely one-sided?
Challenge: Evaluate your key relationships (include your spouse if married). Choose one relationship. What concrete step can you take to nurture and strengthen that relationship? Keep your list and go through the same process with each person on it.
Connecting isn’t just about finding one or two close friends. For the Christ follower, finding your place in a larger collection of believers is also important. In this passage, we see perhaps the ultimate model of what the church should look like. It’s important to note that what brought them together was first their devotion to Jesus and his teaching. Everything else flowed from that central connection.
1. Evaluate how your connection with Christ is impacting the other relationships in your life.
2. How is your connection to the church? If it’s not what you’d like it to be, what steps can you take to strengthen it?
Challenge: Put your answer to question 2 into action. If your connection is strong, celebrate that fact and thank God. If it’s not where you want it to be, take action this week on one of the steps you listed above.
From the very beginning, we were created to be in relationship with other human beings. Even the most introverted among us need the companionship of others to feel fully alive. One of the best places to find relationship is in the church. But if we never establish friendships outside of the church, how will seekers discover Christ? Maintaining a balance of healthy relationships in both arenas should be a goal for believers.
1. Does the church feel like family to you? How can you go about further strengthening your church family ties?
2. Do you find that you sometimes shy away from forming a relationship with someone you like because they aren’t a Christian?
Challenge: A two-step challenge. First, make an effort to strengthen one of your relationships within the church family. Second, make a plan to either establish or deepen a relationship with someone who isn’t a believer.
All this week we have talked about meeting needs. The best way I have been able to meet needs is within a small group of believers. I have had the privilege of meeting with a small group that meets regularly for 15 years. We have stood up, shared burdens, destroyed enemies and met physical needs for each other over this time. The beginning was surface level, but over time, we have learned to trust each other.
1. Have you been a part of a small community of believers before? If not, how come you have not joined?
2. How has/would being part of small group help your faith grow?
Challenge: This month is the Small Group Fall Kick-Off. There are many groups available to join. On Sunday, find a group to join and sign up in the foyer.
The South Dakota climate is quite demanding. We live in a region with snow and cold in the winter and hot and humid summer. It required many physical needs; proper clothing and shelter for both extremes. We have opportunities to provide for those in need during both seasons. Something simple, like a cup of cold water, can go a long way toward helping a person in need. Jesus tells us in Matthew that even providing the simplest of provisions will be rewarding.
1. How do you provide the physical needs of those in need?
2. Is there someone you know with physical needs that you can provide a service for?
Challenge: There are many organizations helping people with physical needs. Seek out a group serving people and see how you can help them.
Jonathan made promises to protect David repeatedly. David needed this reassurance of protection. Jonathan would also promise to destroy his enemies. David would need help to overcome his pursuers. Each of us have our own pursuers that need to be destroyed. These enemies are our chronic sins that never seem to let us go; it could be pride, addictions, lust, etc. Our Father has provided people in our lives to help us destroy our enemies.
1. How are you attacked by your enemies? What chronic sins do you struggle with?
2. Who can you talk to get help with your enemies’ attacks?
Challenge: Find a God-centered friend that you can share your chronic sins with. Allow this person to counsel you with an attack plan to destroy your enemies. Pray with this person to make a three person with God.
Jonathan saw that David needed protection from his father Saul. He advised David to hide so Saul would not be able to find and kill him. Jonathan took a share of David’s burden. Jesus offers to share our burdens with him in the same way Jonathan shared David’s burdens. The Holy Spirit brings each other into our lives so that we have help in our own troubles.
1. What burdens are troubling you right now? What do you need to give to God so that he can help you?
2. Is there a person in your life the Holy Spirit is nudging you to help? How can you help to take on their burdens
Challenge: Find a person who you can share each other’s burdens with. Schedule a time with him/her to share these concerns and pray about them.
Saul had such a jealousy toward David, that he wanted to kill him. David was more successful at defeating the enemies than Saul. Saul knew this would mean that David would succeed him as king. Jonathan was in the tough position of being David’s mediator to his own father, whom he still had his own loyalties to. There are times when we need to stand up to someone we love and ask for mercy and grace, like Jonathan did for David.
1. When is a time you had to stand up to a family member or a friend to ask for mercy and grace on behalf of another?
2. How did it go? Was it challenging? Would you do anything different?
Challenge: This week, pray and look for a moment where you can mediate on a friend’s behalf for forgiveness. Take action when the time presents a chance to help them in this way.
This devotional is written every week by Hillcrest members.
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