The Art of War - Covenant Friendships
Monday, February 24
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
It’s no secret that society today has become all about convenience. If something cannot be easily obtained within a relatively short period of time, most people won’t feel like it’s worth the effort it takes to obtain it. People have become inundated with microwaves, cell phones, and the internet. All of these conveniences definitely make life easier but unfortunately, this same desire for convenience has infiltrated the relationships that God has established to be a strength in people’s lives. You see, God never intended for the life of a believer to full of shallow, superficial relationships, rather He intended the relationships in your life to be covenant, life giving relationships. Very few people, even in their marriages will ever experience the fulfillment that a true covenant relationship can bring to their lives. The ease with which someone can ‘friend’ someone on social media outlets such as FaceBook, Instagram, and Twitter, has undermined the meaning of what true, covenant friendships are supposed to look like. The reality is that friendships take work, friendships take time, and friendships take intentionality. None of these efforts are required to be someone’s friend or follower on a website. Marriage requires you to pour into your spouse’s life, as do quality friendships and even your relationship with God. Being present when someone is having a difficult time. Providing a meal while your friend or someone in their family is in the hospital. Being a shoulder to lean or cry on and encouragement when someone is heartbroken. A covenant friendship not only fulfills all of these needs, but it also gets fulfillment from doing so. Think about the friendships that you currently have in your life. Are they simply friendships of convenience that you turn to when you need something that person can offer? Or are you truly in them to see that person fulfill the destiny that God has for their life? True friends are becoming increasingly rare. What kind of a friend are you? - Love and Blessings, Pastor Jeff
Tuesday, February 25
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Judging by the mindset of most believers today you would think that they lived their lives on a playground as opposed to a battlefield. They have little or no strategy as to how they’re going to succeed or overcome if and when the enemy comes against them. This is not to say that your have to adopt a doomsday philosophy and hunker down in a bunker and hide from all that’s evil in the world. However, you do need to daily equip yourself for the challenges that may arise. People, most often unwittingly, become pawns that the enemy can use to attack you or someone you care about. They allow their problems and issues to overflow onto you in form of a personal attack. While it’s not right or fun to be the victim of such things, if you’ll approach the situation prepared, you won’t suffer the same effects that you would otherwise. This is where you must understand and live as though you’re on a battlefield and not a playground. Attacks are always much more severe when the victim is ill-equipped and unprepared. Understanding that the enemy who attacked you is not the person who physically carried out the assault will help you resolve the conflict as opposed to escalating it. Your enemy is the devil and his minions who push and tempt people into a place of lashing out in an effort to take the attention off of their own frustrations and insecurities. By putting on your armor and knowing the true foe, you can effect a positive change and the only victim in the attack is the devil himself. Have you put on your armor today? Are you ready to take on the enemy should he choose to come against you? Approaching the day ready for battle will enable you to withstand any attack as well as rescue those who are victims of the enemies schemes. - Love and Blessings, Pastor Jeff
Wednesday, February 26
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
When it comes to relationships, especially covenant relationships like a marriage or very close friendships, it’s important to remember that these relationships cannot become your source of happiness or fulfillment. Many a relationship has been unnecessarily damaged or even destroyed because one or both of the people involved have put the other in the unfair position of being their source of happiness. It is unfair to place that kind of weight and pressure on someone. You see, while God built you with a need for companionship, He never intended for the need to be fulfilled by anyone other than Himself. When you try to fill a God-sized space with anything or anyone other than God Himself you will be severely disappointed. What inevitably happens next is that you become angry or even hostile toward the person who you wrongly placed in that position. Thus the relationship becomes strained and, if the issue is not addressed, it comes to ruin. All the while, the real victim is not you, but the one who you unfairly put in God’s place. Do you constantly feel like people are letting you down? Do you find yourself unhealthily clinging to others to fulfill desires that can only be met by God? If so, ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with Himself. Bring those empty places that you’ve tried to fill with your spouse, your kids, your parents, or relationships and ask Him to inhabit those areas Himself. Finding your delight in Him will release you to love others in a way that brings you security and fulfillment as well as impart life into the relationships that God put in your life. You are the only person responsible for your happiness. It’s time to let everyone else of the hook. - Love and Blessings, Pastor Jeff
Thursday, February 27
And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The reason why many people have difficulty properly loving others is that they don’t properly love themselves. Today’s scripture reference has been widely misunderstood for a long time. It’s easy to read it on a surface level and take it as meaning that you need to make sure that you’re as good or better to everyone else as you are yourself. This gets even further misconstrued into a false humility logic that says, “Whatever good I would do for me, if I don’t do that for someone else I’m guilty of sin.” While the first part is true in sense, what today’s scripture is truly implying is that if you don’t if you learn how to properly love yourself, the insecurity and envy that develops will keep you from being any good to the Kingdom whatsoever. Until you grasp the revelation of how much you’re valued and loved by God and apply that to your life, you will constantly look at others as competitors for God’s love and blessings. You’ll become angry and jealous when you see someone else who is receiving from His goodness. You’ll be afraid to be kind and generous because you doubt whether or not you’ll ever receive that same kind of love back. The first and most important thing you can do as a believer is to love God with every bit of strength you can muster. The second is to let Him do the same back to you. The third is to become so confident in that love that you want others to experience it the same way that you have. The boldness and confidence that you’ll begin to walk in will propel you to do good to those around you as often as you have the opportunity to. Take a serious look at how well you express love to others. What you find will reveal to you how well you love yourself. - Love and Blessings, Pastor Jeff
Friday, February 28
Proverbs 27:6 (Passion Translation)
You can trust a friend who wounds you with his honesty, but your enemy’s pretended flattery comes from insincerity.
When it comes to relationships, there is growing tendency among people today not to seek the kind of friendships that will truly challenge and grow them. Many people will fail to develop true and meaningful relationships because pride and insecurity will not allow others to speak truth into their lives. A true and trustworthy friend will love you enough to be honest with you. Even if what they have to say is painful at the moment. Think about it like this. When the doctor tells you that you have an issue that needs to be addressed and removed form your body you don’t, in most cases, get mad at them and walk away. No, you accept the prognosis and trust that doctor to put you on a path to wellness. Why then, when a trusted friend, or spouse, comes to you out of love, seeking your best interests, would you be angry and sever ties with them. Those who know you best, if allowed to, will point out character or behavioral issues that could lead you into a potential mess if not addressed. They don’t enjoy bringing these things to your attention but they love you enough to step up say something about them. In fact, if you’re a true friend to them, you would do the same in return. Love doesn’t hide from the things that can harm you, it reaches out to pull you out of harms way, even at the risk of misunderstanding and anger. No one is perfect, but when you keep the right kind of company around you, those relationships you develop can draw you closer to that place Christlikeness. The next time a spouse or friend comes to you with a concern or question, receive them with love and openness. Even if what concerns them turns out to be a misunderstanding on their part, the fact that they loved you enough to reach out shows the true friend that they want to be to you. - Love and Blessings, Pastor Jeff
Saturday, February 29
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?”
Stewardship is not a word that you will hear spoken of very often. Stewardship means that you are in charge of or a caretaker of something that doesn’t belong to you. For instance, if you were to borrow a friends car, while that vehicle was in your possession, you would be considered the steward of it until it’s returned. What you must realize is that every blessing that God brings into your life He considers you a steward of…especially when it comes to relationships…more so when it come to relationships with fellow believers…even more so when it comes to your spouse and children. You see, people are the Lord’s heartbeat. They are His prized possessions. When He entrusts you with a family and friends, He expects you to steward them well. You (hopefully) wouldn’t return your friends car with trash and food left inside of it, dirty on the outside, or without and gas in the tank. Someday God will receive back from you those family and friends that He gave you to take care of. When He does, what condition will they be in? Will they be better than when you first received them or will they be run down, unkept, and beat up? You, just like Cain are your bother’s keeper. The Lord takes the way you care for them personally. He places them in your life not just to be a benefit to you, but for you to care for and edify them as well. Nothing outside of your relationship with God Himself is more rewarding and fulfilling than God ordained, covenant friendships and marriage. What you’re willing to invest in them is what you’ll receive back in return. You honor the Lord by honoring those He gives you to walk with you through this life. - Love and Blessings, Pastor Jeff.
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