Tag Archives: relationships

Proverbs 25-31; Can You Hear Me Now?

I love how God speaks to His children through the words He inspired men to put to paper thousands of years ago. I hope you aren’t squandering this precious pipeline to God’s heart.

These last chapters of the book of Proverbs have a lot to say about a lot of topics. But honestly, as I read them today I found myself skipping over some of the verses without much consideration. The topics of those don’t apply to my life as much right now. Work ethic, honesty, material possessions, alcohol aren’t things God is dealing with me in 2018.

However, anger is. Quarreling is. Relationships in my life are challenging today, this minute, and God nudged me every time I read those verses that speak to those things. I hear you loud and clear, Lord.

Once again, I was tempted to point fingers. I’d think, “Boy, So and So should read this verse.” Or, “Yeah, that describes So and So.”

And once again, God reminded me that I need to take care of the plank in my own eye before I worry about a speck in someone else’s.

I believe, according to what I read in Scripture, there may very well come a time when I need to address that speck in the eyes of my loved ones. But not before I have a clean heart, pure motives, and God’s leading first.

Not that I’m a “Proverbs 31 Woman,” by any stretch of the imagination, but I would like verse 26 to describe me:

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Speak, Lord. I can hear You.

 

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Proverbs 17-20; Relationship Advice From Solomon

Maybe it’s because I have a couple of challenging relationships in my life at the moment, but these proverbs spoke to me today about how we are to treat each other, who we are to be in relationships. I would challenge you to read these chapters and look for examples, even if there is no discord in your life right now. Because there will be before long. No one is immune.

17:14 jumped out at me first:

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

It just seems that, in our modern society, people look for reasons to be upset. Someone has stepped on my “rights” or hurt my feelings, so I’m going to do what’s best for me and make a big deal out of it, no matter who I hurt. Solomon seems to be advising against that.

Then I backed up and read verse 13:

If a man pays back evil for good, evil will never leave his house.

Never is a long time, my friend.

There are other verses that spoke to me, like 17:27:

A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, a man of understanding is even-tempered.

Then Solomon goes on in the next verse to say:

Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.

‘Nuff said.

18:2 says:

A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinion.

I don’t watch talk shows for this very reason. I don’t enjoy debating with people whose agenda it is to get their point across, without trying to understand another’s. But if I read verses like this and think of that opinionated person who is making my life difficult, I need to read it again. God’s not talking to me about SuzieQ down the street. God is speaking to me, about me. And I certainly don’t want to be the one who is guilty of being opinionated without understanding. I need to read all of these proverbs and remember that I’m not responsible for another’s behavior. I am responsible for mine, however.

These chapters have me asking myself, on what do I base relationships? And are those people closest to me encouraging me in my walk with the Lord?

Can people recognize the wisdom which comes from God in me? Or do they recognize me as a fool because of my tongue, my attitude, my dealings with all kinds of people?

I’d like to repeat my challenge to you today, and encourage you to read these proverbs in light of your relationships. Sometimes relationships are challenging because WE aren’t being the people WE need to be.

May God bless you as you seek wisdom, as you grow in knowledge, and as you apply these truths to your life. And may God be glorified in all our relationships.

I Samuel 19; It Takes Two To Tango

Saul had one goal in life, and it totally consumed him. He wanted David dead more than anything. David, on the other hand, had nothing against Saul. If David had his way, the two would be friends.

Throughout their story we will see Saul do many means things to David. But we won’t see David return evil for evil.

I would say that during the 23 years I was a middle school counselor, the majority of my time was spent dealing with adolescent friendships. More than anything academic, relationships were far and away the number one thing on the minds of those children. Most of the time a child’s instinct was to strike back at someone who they felt wronged them.

“She started it.”

“He hit me first.”

“She said something about my mom.”

“He was talking about me.

And somehow, in their minds those things seemed to justify their own bad behavior. I would often quote Romans 12:21 to them:

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Most of the time they’d look at me like I had grown antlers or something.

Jesus tells us to love our enemies, to pray for those who are mean to us. (Matt 5:44) Easier said than done, because I don’t think revenge is a concept exclusive to adolescents.

Have you heard the phrase, “It takes two to tango”? It takes two of you to have a battle. If one of you refuse to fight back, it isn’t a fight.

Saul heard that David was in Naioth. So the king sent some of his men to go get David. But when Saul’s men got there, they walked into a church service instead of a battle. They joined the church service.

So Saul sent another band of thugs to capture David. And when these men observed David and the people praising God, they praised God, too

This must have been quite the church service because Saul sent a third group of men to do the deed. The third group of men? They dropped their weapons and raised their hands in worship, too.

“Ok. Enough of this,” Saul must have thought. “If you want something done right, you do it yourself.” So with every intention of taking care of David himself, he marched into Naioth, probably spitting nails.

Something happened to Saul, though, when he saw the Spirit of God moving among the people. At least for the time being, he forgot his mission of evil, and began prophesying too, by the Holy Spirit.

Saul had expected to go to battle with David. David refused to go to battle with Saul. And at least for the moment, good did overcome evil, and David’s life was spared.

Matthew Henry said David was delivered, not as he’d delivered his lambs by killing lions, but by turning lions into lambs.

I like that idea.

Do you want to get rid of an enemy? Start by being nice to him or her. You might even turn them into a friend.  It’s not impossible.

It’s Scriptural.

 

Numbers 1-3; Family

We celebrated my niece’s wedding this past weekend with a reception at the local arts’ center. It was so beautiful and so fun to honor the love of her and my newest nephew. To add to the occasion, our family from Texas traveled the thousand mile journey to join us. I got to see my Texas niece’s daughter for the first time, and hug on my sister’s new husband and his daughter. 35 of our immediate family gathered together for brunch on Saturday, then had an Easter Egg hunt for the eight little ones in our lives.

The five “Zehner girls” were all together for the first time in five years. We followed each other around like sappy puppies. No one wanted to miss a moment of our time together. And having almost all their children and grandchildren with us was nothing short of amazing.

Maybe that’s why this morning, as I read these first chapters in the book of Numbers, I was impressed with the fact that God told the Israelites to camp, and travel with their families. Yes, they were all God’s children. But they were divided into family groups, numbered as family groups, went to war as family groups.

I’m thankful for my family group. I won’t pretend that everything has always been as it was this past weekend. There has been hurt, and anger, and separation. There have been times when there was little or no communication with some of us. But as I sat together with my sisters, laughing and remembering the good times, as I watched our children enjoying each other, someone said, “Thank you, Bob and Ginny.” Our parents gave us quite a gift in our forever friends.

Some of you may be experiencing brokenness in your family group. I don’t know your situation. But I would encourage you to do what you can to fix it. Reach out to that one with whom you are estranged. Confess. Forgive. Encourage. Family units seem to be important to God.

If you are a parent I would suggest that you would raise your children to be friends. Model the behavior with your own siblings that you want to see in your kids. People don’t believe that a house full of five girls could exist without fights. But we didn’t get away with fighting. We weren’t allowed to be mean to each other,  and our parents never thought it was funny if one of us would strike another or take another’s toy.

I, being the oldest, was never given authority over my younger sisters. I can’t remember ever being “in charge” when our parents weren’t home. (Oh, I might have thought I was in charge, but I don’t think that position was ever really given to me). We weren’t all forced to fit into a single mold. I never heard, “Why aren’t you more like your sister?”

Parenting is hard. But how you raise your children will have a lot to do with the relationships you have with them when they are adults. I’m loving the adult relationships I have with my nieces and nephews, and their spouses. And I love that the second generation of Zehners are friends with each other, too.

 

Jesus’ friends were concerned for His family, His mother, brothers, and sisters. Jesus told them that we who do God’s will are his family. Yet, when He was on the cross, He looked at Mary, His mother, and told John to take care of her. There was still that family connection.

So I believe the Bible teaches that families are important. They can be those people who love you best, hold you accountable, encourage, and challenge you.

I’m praying for yours.

Genesis 40 How’re You Doing?

I didn’t get very far reading the familiar story of Joseph, the cupbearer, and the baker, when something convicted me. I don’t think I’ve ever really looked at this verse before.

When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. (vs 6, emphasis mine).

I know that it’s hard to read people some times. But I have to admit there have been times when I recognized a look of sorrow or worry or grief on a person and looked the other way. Or I say the obligatory “How’re you doing?” and expect to hear the accepted reply, “Fine” and leave it at that.

But Joseph paid attention to how the two men looked. Then, in verse 7:

So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why are your faces so sad today?”

Now here’s what I get from this:

  1. Joseph recognized the dejected look on their faces.
  2. He asked them specifically about it.
  3. He listened to what they had to say.
  4. He spoke honestly with them.

Joseph didn’t just tell them what they wanted to hear. I wonder what would have happened if the baker had heard the warning, confessed his sin, and asked forgiveness. Joseph told him the truth. But the baker did nothing with it. And the baker died just like the dream had predicted.

God is speaking to me today about my relationship with others. Jesus told us to love one another. In fact, He said that was the second greatest commandment. And sometimes loving someone requires us to get involved in their lives, to be a sounding board, or to point out sin in their lives so they can confess it and receive God’s forgiveness.

And God is asking me to pay attention. If I recognize a look on someone’s face that tells me something is up, I need to stop and talk to them, listen to them, and be honest with them according to Scripture.

God, if You want me to relate to people like Joseph related to these two men, I’m going to need You. Give me the ability to read people, and the courage to ask them what’s on their minds if You prompt me to do that. Let me show Your love by truly caring about them. Help me to be an encourager if encouragement is needed. Help me to be a mirror if they need to take a good look at themselves. And help me always to point them to You, and only You.

 

June 8 – Too Many Friends?

Proverbs 16-18

Can a person have too many friends? I guess that depends on your definition of friendship. You can “friend” a person on FaceBook and be one of a million other people who are friends with them, too. Some people never turn down a friend request so they can see their own numbers grow.

I, myself, have friended people from high school, others I knew thirty years ago when they were in middle school, but would never want to hang out with them or share my deepest concerns with them. Obviously, FaceBook friends are not necessarily friends in the old sense of the word.

What about online dating and social sites? Is an online friendship the same as a hold-my-hand, give-me-a-hug kind of relationship? I guess it can be in a cyber world kind of way. But I’m old enough to prefer a friend I can sit across the table with over a cup of coffee, enjoying each other’s company and sharing our hearts face to face.

Solomon says, “a man of too many friends comes to ruin…” (18:24) So, yes, I guess a person can have too many friends. A real friendship involves investing yourself, your time. That kind of friendship depends on mutual trust and affection. If you try to be a real friend to too many people, how far do you have to stretch? How thin can you spread yourself? Solomon suggests you’ll ruin yourself if you try.

Solomon tells us there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (also in verse 24). If you have that kind of friend, you are blessed. That person who knows you and loves you anyway, that one who will be brutally honest with you, encourage you to try something new, to put you in your place or pat you on the back. That one who defends you, stands up for you, stands shoulder-to-shoulder with you into battle. That one whose arms are your safe place.

If you have that friend you are truly blessed. If you are that kind of friend to someone, you are blessed and a blessing.

But wait! If you are a Christian you HAVE that friend. His name is Jesus. He knows you and loves you, fights for you, encourages you, is brutally honest with you, and is certainly your safe place.

Are you that kind of friend to Jesus, too? Do you spend time with Him? Do you talk to Him every day, include Him in your choices, share with Him your dreams and concerns? Do you stand up for Him, fight shoulder-to-shoulder with Him?

That friend sitting across from me over coffee is a friend I cherish, one I depend on and trust. But that person will disappoint me, will fail me once in a while. And I’ll fail her, too. We are imperfect people.

Jesus will never fail me. And His is the friendship I cherish most of all, the friendship I will nurture above all others.

I will never have a million friends. I don’t need nor want a million friends. But I will lovingly care for the few people closest to me, will spend time with them, have their backs, encourage and chastise them. We will do that for each other.

But as precious are those relationships, none can compare to the relationship I have with my Savior. That is a friendship I can’t do without. He sticks closer than a brother. And I’m sticking with Him.

 

Completely Loved

I’m not married. And sometimes when I read about Ruth’s declaration of love, I get jealous. I have never been loved like that. I believe I have the capacity to love like Ruth loved. But I haven’t had the privilege of being loved so completely.

Then, in the midst of my pity party I almost hear God say, “What about Me?”

I read in Luke 19 where Jesus, surrounded by screaming fans, wept over Jerusalem. He wanted to protect them from what was ahead. But he loved them so completely he continued into their midst, knowing it meant his death.

I am reminded Jesus loves me like that. As beautiful as is Ruth’s declaration of love for Naomi, Jesus’ declaration of love for me is even more so. And every time I see a cross I am reminded of that declaration of love, a love that sent Jesus to Calvary. There is no greater love.

My response?

Don’t ask me to leave you, God. Where you go, I’ll go. Your people are my people. I’ll live and die with you. And, in death, I’ll continue to be at your side.