Tag Archives: relationships

Seeking Sharpness

Do you know someone that just rubs you the wrong way? Every time you meet, you clash. It seems like every time you’re around each other, they bring out the worst in you. Then there are others you come into contact with who seem to make you want to be a better person. You have long, deep, conversations about things. They ask questions that keep you thinking for days. You can’t wait to be near them because they bring out the best side of you. I think it’s good to have both types in your life. I know it sounds crazy, but even the people who seem to bring out the worst in you can help you be a better person.

The people who bring out the worst in me reveal my rough edges. They show me the side of me that I work hard at covering up. When that side of me flares up, it’s a reminder that it’s still there and that I still have work to do. We all have rough edges in our lives that need smoothing out. When a piece of wood is rough, we don’t hold back the sandpaper. We apply it because we know that wherever it is applied will even be smooth. When a knife is dull, we don’t throw it away. We apply it to a whetstone or a grinding stone in order to make the edges sharp. Relationships, the good ones and the difficult ones, can have that same affect on you.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “It takes a grinding wheel to sharpen a blade, and so one person sharpens the character of another” (TPT). One of the things I pray often is, “God, put the right relationships in my life who will help me to be who you’ve called me to be, and take out the ones who don’t.” God is able to use relationships to smooth out our edges and to make us sharper people so we can fulfill our purpose. If you’re around people who seem to bring out the worst in you, ask God to use them to make you better or to help you break away from that relationship. We all have room for improvement in becoming more like Christ. Some relationships require you to end them so you can improve, and others will be used to smooth out your rough edges. Seek God’s wisdom for what to do in those relationships in your life and keep seeking to be sharp.

Photo by Manki Kim on Unsplash

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Relationship Goals 

When I was a teen, someone told me, “You become like those you run with.” When I was a young adult, someone told me, “You show me who your friends are, and I’ll show you who you are.” Then several years later, someone told me, “If you want to soar with eagles, you can’t be scratching around in the dirt with turkeys.” All these reminders have been about the importance of choosing who you choose to hang out with. Either the group you’re with will hold you back or help you get to that next level.

As I’ve lived my life, I can honestly say that these messages are true. Close relationships are the greatest influencers of your success or failure. If you’re constantly failing and are stuck in a bad place, you need to walk away from the relationships that are holding you back. Your life will not change until you change your relationships. If you want your life to improve, associate with people who are ahead of you and are moving in the right direction. This works for spiritual and economic growth.

As Paul was grooming Timothy to be a leader, he gave him the same advice. 2 Timothy 2:22 says, “Strive for righteousness, faith, love, and peace, together with those who with a pure heart call out to the Lord for help” (GNT) Paul wanted Timothy to understand it’s difficult to grow on your own. You need other like minded people who are headed in the same direction to help you get there. Proverbs 27:17 tells us that as iron sharpens iron, one person sharpens another. You need people around you who will make you sharp. 

When coaching or counseling people, I let them know that they need someone ahead of them that they can follow. They need someone beside them that can challenge them. They also need someone behind them that they can help get to the next level. Finding the right relationships is one of the most difficult tasks in life. That’s why it’s preached to you since you were young. It’s never to late to make the changes you need to make. If you’re ready to soar with eagles, spread your wings and leave the turkeys behind. 


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Faithful Friends

When life gets hard, you find out who your true friends are. Hard times have a way of weeding out acquaintances and fair weather friends. There are those who will stand by your side through the darkest night and those who will abandon you the moment bad things start coming your way. It’s hard to tell them apart until your faced with adversity. Proverbs 18:24 says, “Some friendships do not last, but some friends are more loyal than brothers” (GNB).

As you read that, I’m sure names are popping in your head. You can think of those who abandoned you, but you can also think of those who have stood by your side. It’s easy to get mad at those who have fallen by the wayside, but the truth is, you don’t have to be mad at them. You don’t need those kinds of relationships in your life. Let them go and wish them well. Don’t hold grudges against them because it may mess up your lifelong relationships.

We like to think of the parable of the Prodigal Son as a story about returning to God, but I believe it’s also about friendships. When he had his inheritance and was living recklessly, I’m sure he had a lot of friends. When his money ran out and the famine hit, where were those friends? No one offered him shelter. No one offered him money. No one offered him food. He realized that the friendships he developed were poor ones and he thought of home. He realized he hadn’t been a good friend to them.

He learned that friendships and relationships are a two way street. Relationships that are one way, don’t last. He went back to the relationships that mattered and they accepted him back. While hard times can take away friendships that are one way, they can also drive us back to the ones that matter. If you haven’t been the type of person who was loyal to others, ask for their forgiveness and try to work things out. If you’ve found a friend that is more loyal than a brother, reach out to them today and thank them for being in your life. 

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Learning Through Relationships

When is the last time you looked back over your life to see the people God placed in it at just the right time? I’ve been reflecting this week on my entire life as an exercise in faith. I spent time looking back thinking about the people who have mentored me in the faith. I’ve also spent some time thinking about the people who were brought into my life for a brief period and then were gone again. As I’ve done this exercise, I have been able to see God’s hand on the relationships He’s brought to me. It has also built my faith in trusting Him with the relationships He has given me right now.

Sometimes we don’t understand why God has brought certain people into our lives. Some rub us the wrong way. Some push us out of our comfort zone. Some challenge everything we say. Some make us want to run away. As I’ve mentioned those, you’ve probably put some names to those people in your life right now. We all have people in our lives that we are grateful for. At the same time, we also have people in our lives where we wonder what God is thinking! We’d rather that they not be in our lives. In looking back, I’ve found that those people shaped me as well. The ones who rubbed me the wrong way actually acted like sand paper and smoothed out some of my rough edges.

When I look at the story of Joseph in Genesis 37, I see the relationships God put in his life. The first relationships you see are with his dad and brothers. His dad loved him, but his brothers didn’t. When his brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites, God put Potiphar in his life. Potiphar was the captain of the palace guard for Pharaoh. When Joseph did well for him, he made him his personal assistant. Joseph got to see the inner working of Egypt. He got to see how to act in the presence of a king. He learned how to be an effective administrator which he would need later.

After being wrongfully put in prison, Joseph used the skills he learned from Potiphar to run the prison. He leveraged the relationship with the guards and eventually the warden to be put in such a position that he was over all the other prisoners. It was then that he met two prisoners who worked in the Pharaoh’s court. He was able to interpret their dreams putting him in direct relationship with someone who had Pharaoh’s ear. When Pharaoh had a dream no one could interpret, the released prisoner mentioned Joseph. He was then able to be put in a position to save his father and brothers.

You may not understand the relationships you have right now, but God is using them to get you where He needs you. Joseph could have sulked that he was a slave or a prisoner and spent his life being bitter. Instead, he took bad situations and forged relationships he wouldn’t have made any other way. He looked for opportunity instead of excuses. He built relationships instead of resentment. Looking back it’s easy to see what God was doing. I’m sure Joseph didn’t understand why he had those relationships at the time. He accepted the people that God placed in his life, learned from them and moved on.

Who is God trying to use in your life right now?
Have you been building resentment toward them or relationships them?
What do you need to do to learn from each relationship?


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A Prayer For Your Family


I lift up your name. I praise you because you’re worthy. You are the omnipotent and I recognize that. Where I am weak, you are strong. When I can’t, you are able. When I am limited, you are unlimited. You own the cattle on a thousand hills as the Psalmist out it. You own everything we see. You created this universe and are beyond the vastness of it. You can create something out of nothing with just your voice. Your words are powerful. More powerful than anything any one of us could ever imagine.

Today, I ask you to speak into my family. I pray that you would speak protection over them. As each of us go different ways, you are the only one who has the ability to watch over us and to protect us. Guard our paths. Expose the enemy when he’s lying in wait to steal, kill and destroy those I love. Rebuke him and keep him away so that he cannot lay a finger on anyone in my household. You are the One who gives abundant life and I ask that you speak that life into my family.

Next I pray that you would order each of our steps. Your Word says that the steps of a righteous man are ordered by you, so I ask that you would shine your light on the paths that each of us are to take. If anyone of us stumbles, reach out your hand to catch us, pull us back up and set our feet back on your path. Keep us from wandering off the paths that you have chosen for us. We want to do your will and go where you tell us. Make your way clear to each member of my family so there’s no question where you want them to walk.

For the members of my family in relationships, I ask that you would strengthen them. Draw them closer together through their relationship with you. Help each one to be selfless in their responsibilities in that relationship. For those who are yet to be in a relationship, I ask that you would bring someone who is godly into their life to challenge them in their relationship with you in order to help them grow. Put that person you have for them in their path so they will see them and your hand in the situation. Remove all fear and doubt from their mind in order to help them trust your plan for them.

Above all, I ask that you would place on each of us a hunger for more of you. Give us an appetite, a craving for your Word. Cause us to never be satisfied with anything less than you. Help us to put away spiritual junk food and to focus on putting only healthy things in our minds and hearts. When we do, I know we will be a reflection of you in all we say and do. We want to be good examples of who you are to those we meet. We want to be able to speak life into others, to build them up and encourage them. Let our lives lead others straight to you. Help us to represent you faithfully as we become more like you every day.

I ask all these things in Jesus’ name.



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Digging Deeper


It’s Free Friday! Today is the day you let go of the things in your life that keep you down or hold you back from all God has for you. To celebrate, I’m giving away a copy of “Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters” by Joshua Harris. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

Let me ask you a few questions. Who is the President of the United States? What is their spouse’s name? How many kids do they have? What are their names? Do they have any pets? What are their names? Where do they live? What did they do before becoming president? Do you personally know the president? If you answered no to that last one, but were able to answer the others, you know about the president, but you don’t really know them. It’s the same thing with Christianity. So many of us can answer a lot of questions about God and the Bible, but so few really know Him in comparison.

Think of your best friend. What makes them your best friend? I would imagine that you have been through a lot together. They have stood with you through thick and thin. When others abandoned you in the hard times, they stuck with you. They don’t just show up in your good times. You’ve built a relationship with them through good times and bad. You know more than the surface level things about them. You know the intimate details, their struggles, their fears, their hopes and the dreams they’ve never told anyone else. That’s the difference in knowing about someone and knowing them.

When you look at the image of the tree above, that’s what happens in our relationship with God when storms come and our relationship is only surface level. When we haven’t taken the time to really get to know Him, His Word, His thoughts, His dreams and His plans, our roots are only surface level. We can look big and mighty, but the truth is, it wouldn’t take a whole lot to knock us over. How do I know? I’ve lived it. I’ve been that oak tree that looked strong, but the truth was that everything was surface level. Nothing was really deep.

As I lay on my side like that oak, I had a decision to make: I could lay there like that, rot away and die or I could get back up and grow my roots down deep into what I already believed and knew so much about. I chose the later. I decided my meeting with a God wouldn’t be just on Sundays. I chose to read His Word for myself rather than just listening to someone else telling me what it said. I decided to be honest with God in my prayers rather than giving shallow platitudes. I needed Him to be my rock in the bad times and not just someone I blessed in the good times. I had to dig my roots down deep in Him, like Colossians 2:7 says, so that my life began to be built on Him.

In the process, I had to give up some relationships that distracted from that goal. I had to make hard choices about what thoughts I let enter my mind. I had to choose to walk away from distractions in my life. I knew I didn’t want to be blown over again in another storm. That’s still my motivating factor in digging down deeper in Him. I know that the deeper my relationship is with God, the deeper my roots will be. The deeper my roots, the stronger I am. I won’t just appear to be strong, I’ll really be strong. You have the ability to make the same choice. Get free of the things in your life that hold you to a surface level relationship with God. When you do, your roots will begin to grow down instead of out.

If you would like to win a copy of “Dug Down Deep” by Joshua Harris, all you have to do is sign up to receive my devotions in your email. There is a box on the right hand side of my web page where you can enter it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (May 24, 2014) who has liked my page today. If you have already signed up to receive these devotions by email, thank you. If you enjoy reading them, please forward them to your friends and invite them to subscribe as well.


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How To Be A Better Spouse

It’s Free Friday! Today is the day you let go of the things in your life that keep you down or hold you back. To celebrate, I’m giving away a copy of “The Power of a Praying Husband” by Stormie Omartian. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

“If I ever get the chance again, I’m going to put my wife first. I’m going to be the spiritual head of my household. I’m not going to take her for granted. I’m going to be the husband she needs me to be. I’m not going to fight her over things that don’t matter. I’m going to put her needs above my own. I’m going to pray for her daily.” These were promises I made to myself over ten years ago after my ex-wife walked out. I knew the mistakes I had made as a husband and the fruit that it bore was more than I could handle.

I learned a painful lesson in 2003. Afterwards, I had a lot of time to think about how the previous four years had gone, where our relationship turned, things I could have done to avoid where we ended up and what I should have done. I can tell you that could haves and should haves don’t repair broken relationships. As I laid there in that empty bed each night, I replaced the could haves and should haves with promises of what I would do in the future. I mapped out what I needed to do to be a better husband next time. I spent time learning what Paul meant when he said, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church.”

Ultimately, it boils down to putting your spouse’s needs above your own. You have to sacrifice yourself (what you want) for what’s best for the relationship. Christ could have stayed in Heaven and left us in a broken relationship. He could have divorced us, gone to another planet and started over. He didn’t. He wasn’t content with the way things were. If He had it to do over, He would come down to us, show us the love He’s always wanted to show us and do what was necessary to mend the relationship.

He put aside His pride of being the King of Kings. He laid aside the fact that He was Lord of Lords. He became a helpless human, walked in our shoes, humbled Himself and sacrificed everything for us. He did what’s required of us in any relationship that’s going to work. He put the needs of the relationship above His own needs. He became our advocate and our intercessor. He prays daily to the Father for you and me. In the same way, we have to humble ourselves enough to honor the other person in the relationship. We have to lift them up in prayer daily.

I used to pray that God would change my wife to fit my needs. Now, my prayer is, “Lord, change me and help me to be the husband she needs.” I’ve discovered that when I’m the person my wife needs me to be, she wants to be the wife I need her to be. If the two are ever to become one, they both have to move into the person that the other needs. They have to make decisions based on what’s best for the couple, not the individual. Otherwise, they will always be just two separate individuals who are stick together trying to go in different directions. That won’t work. Trust me, I know.

If you would like to win “The Power of a Praying Husband” by Stormie Omartian, all you have to do is go to my Facebook page here and “like” it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (March 22, 2014) who has liked my page. If you have already liked my page and enjoy reading these daily devotionals, you are already entered. Please invite your friends to like my page so they can receive encouragement from God’s Word too.


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Approachable Jesus

My pastor asked a question last Sunday that still has me thinking about it. He asked, “Are you approachable by the world or are you so self righteous that they want nothing to do with you?” His next point was that Jesus was approachable. So approachable in fact that a prostitute came and washed his feet, a tax collector invited Him into his house and a Samaritan woman brought her whole village out to meet Him. His life wasn’t about showing how much holier He was. It was about showing love to others despite how the world labeled them.

It’s easy to not want to associate with certain types of people. It’s become normal for us to wonder about those who hang out with sinners. Why? I heard Kirk Franklin say, “If everyone I know loves Jesus, I don’t know enough people.” I get it. We need to surround ourselves with other believers and grow in the faith. We also need to make sure we have relationships with those who aren’t believers.

How can we have influence on someone we don’t have a relationship with? Jesus taught in the temples on the Sabbath, but the rest of the week He was in the streets, villages and hillsides building relationships with those who weren’t in the temple. He left the 99 who were safe in the temple to search for that one who would listen outside. He made Himself available to others. He healed those who weren’t religious. If He didn’t, why did He often say, “Go and sin no more”?

We limit God by thinking certain things are only for believers. God wants us to demonstrate His love to all so that none would perish. I was praying this week a prayer that I heard from a friend of mine. The prayer he told me he prays isn’t, “God show me your will and I’ll do it.” He said, “I’ve been praying, ‘God, what are you dreaming of doing? Pick me. I’ll volunteer to make that dream a reality.'”

As I was praying that this week, I asked God, “What do you dream about?” The answer was, “That none should perish.” God’s dream isn’t that we have large churches, debt free buildings or an amazing light show during praise and worship. Are those things great to have? Yes. But are we putting our time, energy and money into building relationships that grow the Kingdom? That’s where God’s heart is.

Today, think about your life. How approachable are you by those outside the church? If an unbeliever is around you at work, are you the type of person they could come to and ask questions about faith? Would you give them the churchy answer? Or do they know you will be real and transparent about your faith? None of us are perfect. We just serve a perfect God and do our best to be like Him. Build relationships. Win the lost. That’s God’s heartbeat.

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