January 11, 2020 | Prayer Guides by Various Authors
Your Relationship with Others
DAY 11 – A PEOPLE OF UNITY
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.— Psalm 133
This Psalm extols the ideal of Christ-followers living life together in unity. When unity is achieved, it is likened to the priests of the temple being anointed with precious oil. This oil symbolized being set apart, consecrated, made holy by God. Unity is also likened to the dew, which is a necessary and nourishing source of water for a healthy crop. God will bring to bear His blessing where unity flourishes. We are called to be a people of unity. It is the ideal of the Christian life within the body of believers.
Questions to consider:
Are you doing everything you can to promote unity within the body? Are you striving towards harmony, seeking out peace? Are you thanking God for the blessings He has already provided within this body of believers?
- Lord, help me to be a member of the body that prays for and promotes unity amongst my fellow believers—“seek peace and pursue it” (Ps. 34:12).
- Lord, help me remember the tongue is a “world of evil that corrupts the whole body“ (Jas. 3:6), and that “he who guards his lips, guards his life” (Prov. 13:3).
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called.— 1 Peter 3:8–9
DAY 12 – UNITY FOR THE GLORY OF GOD
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.— Romans 15:1–7
It’s easy to disagree, isn’t it? Believers have been known to argue over everything from music to attire to coffee to decorations and so much more. Some of us have weaknesses that others don’t. One person’s preference is another’s wrongdoing. Yet, despite all our differences and failings, we are all called to join together to worship and glorify the one true God. OUR one true God. We are commanded in Scripture to live in harmony. Why? So that our unified voice will glorify our heavenly Father, the author and perfecter of our faith.
Questions to consider:
Are you in discord with another believer now? Are you tearing down a brother or sister in Christ rather than building up? What can you do to bring harmony to this relationship?
- Read and pray through Matthew 7:1–5.
- Father help me to consider the interests of others ahead of my own desires.
- Lord, cultivate a heart in me that seeks to please You first by loving other people as Christ does.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.— Philippians 2:5
DAY 13 – IN DEED AND TRUTH
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.— 1 John 3:18
The apostle John is reminding children of God to serve. He is issuing a command, in fact, to not only speak good things, but to do good things. Memorizing Scripture and singing songs of faith will build our confidence in the one true God who calls us to serve—both with words and with action. Consider serving in the many opportunities that are available at The Creek—driving golf carts, serving in the nursery or Special Needs ministry, singing in the choir, just to name a few. If you only hear the Word on Sunday mornings but then go and forget the rest of the week, you are “deceiving yourselves.”
Questions to consider:
Do you want to be blessed by God? Then obey His Word! You cannot pray and ask God to bless your life all the while continuing to ignore the clear teaching of Scripture in various areas of your life. Obedience to the Word of God is a must. And the Word specifically tells how we can serve one another with the spiritual gifts given by the Spirit (see1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12; Ephesians 4; 1 Peter 4).
- Father, help me to not just know Romans 12:1 but live it as well. Create in me a heart that offers myself as a living sacrifice for the body of my church.
- Pray for the gifting God has granted you to be revealed and affirmed through your service in various areas of the church.
- Pray over 1 Peter 4:10, “ As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.— James 1:22
DAY 14 – PUT ON LOVE
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.— Colossians 3:12–15
Paul urges us to put on, like clothing, attributes that align with who we are in Christ as chosen, holy and beloved. Our ability to properly relate to others flows out of our identity in Christ. Christ has perfectly demonstrated all of these traits in what He has done for us and, because of that, we are able to reflect who He is in our relationships. Ultimately, love is the foundation of these virtues. God’s love for us in Christ frees us to love others, leading to harmony in the body. Because we have peace with God through Christ, peace with others is possible. Let us pray that we love one another with thankful hearts, understanding that this is only possible through Jesus Christ.
Questions to consider:
How does your identity in Christ influence how you relate to others? Do your relationships reflect God’s grace toward you?
- Praise God for His compassion, kindness, patience, forbearance and forgiveness.
- Spend time in prayer confessing the ways you have failed to be Christ-like in your relationships.
- Pray for God to develop in you the traits listed in this passage.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.— 1 John 4:7
DAY 15 – GREATEST OF ALL
And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”— Mark 9:35
The world gives countless directions from books and blogs, to celebrity and clergy. The world gives countless direction on achieving greatness — How to be the best version of yourself. Most advice the world offers includes acts of good. Yet these acts are to make oneself great; the Bible teaches quite the opposite.
During this passage the disciples are called out by Jesus for thinking in a worldly vein — who was the greatest among them. Jesus is quick to declare God’s truth on this matter. The disciples had to choose to come last and choose to serve others. In our own lives, there is the desire to be seen, heard, acknowledged, and appreciated. All of these desires bring the focus back to our own desire for greatness. They creep into our churches and relationships with our Christian brothers and sisters. A Christian must choose to be last, humble, lovingly choosing to stay late, helping others, doing deeds the world deems menial, going unseen and unacknowledged.
The Christian is also to be opposite from the world they serve. Jesus served everyone, except Himself. Left to our own devices, swayed by worldly wisdom, we would choose to serve ourselves by masking our own agendas, at work and home. This is not the service to which Christians are called.
Questions to consider:
Do you use Godly wisdom or worldly wisdom to be “great”? Do you struggle to serve others with pure motives? Who do you choose to serve, God or self?
- Take time to examine your motives for service. At your core, are your relationships and service achieving self-greatness or Christ’s greatness?
- Read and pray through Philippians 2:1–11.
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.— Deuteronomy 10:12
DAY 16 – LET US NOT GROW WEARY
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.— Galatians 6:9–10
Let’s face it. We all struggle with weariness from time to time. Ministry is often difficult and often we do not see fruit in this lifetime. This encouragement from Paul reminds us that it is only in our reliance on the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can truly sow the seeds of good that will reap a harvest of life. The perseverance and endurance to which we are called in Christ are grounded in the assurance of the hope of eternal life. We must all, as we labor with and for one another, rely on His Spirit for strength to press on to the final hope of the heavenly reward that is secure in Jesus our Savior. Do not give up!
Questions to consider:
Are you relying on the Spirit or your own strength to do what is good? Are you focused on circumstances or on Christ? Are you working for the temporary rewards of doing good or the eternal?
- Ask God to shift your focus to Christ and thank Him for the hope of eternal life.
- Pray that God would renew your strength and help you to rely on the Holy Spirit to persevere.
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.— Philippians 3:14
DAY 17 – COUNT OTHERS
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others— Philippians 2:3–4
These two verses command us to do something that seems utterly impossible to accomplish. As sinners our very nature drives us to selfish ambition, so to regard others as more important than ourselves is completely foreign to us. After having outlined in the previous verses the necessity for the church at Philippi to seek unity in Christ, Paul is unpacking for them how they might go about doing that very thing. To do this, to find unity, they must put off their selfish ambition. They must leave behind vain conceit and run fast after humility that drives them to place others above themselves. In a church where everyone is looking out for the needs of everyone else, unity is born. On the contrary, preoccupation with self is a sin that will destroy the unity of the body of believers. This putting aside self for the unity and care of the body can only be accomplished by the power of the indwelling Spirit in believers who surrender to Him. Our very example for such living is found in Jesus Christ who left the glory of heaven to share our humanity and die on the cross so that we can have eternal life. He is our model. The key here is the gospel. John Piper explained, “The gospel breaks us, frees us, from the mindset of merit, deserve, and entitlement. That brokenness frees us from all conceit, and we are empowered for service to others.”
Questions to consider:
What is our mindset towards serving others? What does it look like to count others as more significant than ourselves? Do we find our joy, our fulfillment, in Him or in our personal accomplishments? Do we recognize the humility demonstrated on the cross?
- Thank God for Christ’s example of humble service demonstrated on the cross (Philippians 2:5–11). Father, reveal to me areas of my life that are not honoring to You as I pursue fulfillment of my selfish desires over service to others.
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.— Psalm 131:1–2
DAY 18 – LOVE ONE ANOTHER
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.— John 15:12–13
Let’s be honest. We have difficulty showing kindness in the church parking lot much less loving others as Christ has loved us. To add insult to injury, our culture has redefined love to mean anything and everything that meets our own wants, needs and desires. Worldly love is rarely sacrificial love.
In contrast, God’s love took human form in Jesus and is our model of love. Love is why God sent the Son (John 3:16), love is why the Son humbled Himself in coming (Eph 5:2), and love is why the Spirit draws people to Jesus (Romans 8:1–11). Jesus’ work and mission to save mankind is based on His love for us. And this love has no limitations. Jesus will surrender and lay down His very life for us. This is the pattern of love Jesus commands us to extend to one another.
What does the Bible say love is? While the Bible has plenty to teach us about love, consider this verse: Romans 5:8, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Brothers and sisters, we too are called to model this same love to everyone—not just those within the body.
Questions to consider: Friend, do you love only those who love you? Who in your family, work, neighborhood and church have you not loved even while Christ has loved you?
- Father, thank You that you are a gracious and loving God. Thank You that You have shown us perfect love in Christ. Help me to offer Christ’s love to others.
- Lord, open my eyes to the love You have shown me, and fill my heart with that same love for all those I come in contact with today.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.— John 13:34–35
DAY 19 – IRON SHARPENS IRON
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.— Proverbs 27:17
This verse is a pretty well-known verse as it points to some of God’s instructions given to us regarding relationships.
Context surrounding Scripture is crucial to a proper understanding of it. Why is the illustration of iron used in this verse? In Old Testament times, one iron blade would be used to sharpen another until both blades became more effective. There were no other tools or sharpening devices back then. It took time and persistent effort to achieve the desired sharpness. However, if left alone, both blades would become dull and eventually useless. You see, they needed each other to be effective in their work.
The same is true in the life of a believer. God did not intend for us to do His work alone, nor can we. Through salvation, God adopts us into a community with other believers to pursue relationships that are rooted in Him. Transparent, godly friendships hold one another genuinely accountable—allowing another to see, identify and address areas of weakness in your life with the ultimate goal of pointing you to look more like Christ. Friendships such as these are refining to the believer and equip you in a closer walk with the Lord.
Questions to consider:
Think on your biblical friendships. Do you surround yourself with “iron” to sharpen you and hold you accountable? Or do you allow yourself to be surrounded by bad company?
- Lord, thank You for the beautiful gift of friendship You have given us. Allow my life to be refined and filled with biblical friendships full of accountability and love where You are at the center.
- May I have proper motivation and a willing heart to allow others to see my weaknesses so they can encourage me to look more like You.
Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.— 1 Cor. 15:33
DAY 20 – BE RECONCILED TO YOUR BROTHER
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.— Matthew 5:22–24
Anger is not something we have; it is something we do. Very rarely is our anger “righteous anger”—anger that aligns with God’s anger. Most human anger is sinful.
Jesus, of course, is perfectly aware of what’s inside people and calls attention to anger and its offspring. His words aren’t directed at just anyone. The word brother is used four times and identifies fellow believers. Jesus is greatly concerned about the condition of His children’s hearts. To be sure, Jesus is so concerned He instructs His children to interrupt their worship to bring reconciliation.
Friends, we are literally spiritual siblings with one another, and our Father desires that we love one another as Christ loves us (John 13:34). Anger is divisive and destructive. As children of God, we are called to “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31–32).
Questions to consider:
Evaluate your anger—is it unrighteous anger? Who are you currently angry with? What stops you from reconciling with this person?
- Father, I get angry. Help me to manage my anger and not sin while I am angry.
- Help me understand the root of my anger. Help me understand why I get angry.
- Grant me a heart that wants and seeks reconciliation, especially with my fellow believers.
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.— Galatians 6:10