A week ago, I had the opportunity to briefly share on Sunday morning concerning how the Lord challenges me and how I love to be challenged. Sometimes He just drops a thought in my head that seems so counter to my way of thinking. It catches me completely off guard. The thought is so pointed and exact, simple, yet difficult to understand.
He follows up the thought with a simple question, “Jeff, do I have all your heart?”. Obviously, the answer to the question is no. Why would He ask, if He didn’t have something in mind? But, that’s our Lord, always loving and always chasing us, but allowing us to decide. He doesn’t take. He gently asks. He doesn’t demand. He waits on us, to yield to him.
What patterns am I following, those things that I do, day in and day out? If the world were to observe my life for a day, would I appear to be any different than any other person? Or, would I fit in with the pattern they expect to see? What patterns in your life do you need to evaluate? How do you spend your money? How to you use your time? What are you willing to watch on tv or at the movies? How’s that relationship going with your boyfriend or girlfriend? What activities fill your schedule? What do you do on the weekend or after that hard day at work? There’s certainly a pattern to this world in all these things and if we were to follow the way of the world, it would usually end up in self-indulgence, pleasure, and ease.
What pattern does the Lord want you to follow?
I shared that Sunday morning about this thought the Lord dropped in me, “Relationship is a commandment.” What Lord? A commandment to be in relationship? How’s that work? I was led to Matthew 22:36-40. The disciples ask Jesus what the greatest commandment is and Jesus replies very simply, “Love God and love your neighbor”. So, who’s my neighbor? Who’s your neighbor? We all tend to think that our neighbors are those who live next door or across the street, but I believe the Lord is asking us here to love those we come in contact with.
There’s certainly a pattern in this world when it comes to relationship. In our social media and entertainment filled lives, the pattern has brought us to lead self-focused and isolated lives, reaching out to others from the comfort of our couches or behind our smart phones and computers. But love requires purposeful relationship. It requires us to be compassionate and kind to others, giving of ourselves and our time. When we do these things, it builds relationship. If we are to love those around us, we have to be in relationship with them. We can’t love and be in relationship when isolated in our homes. We can’t love and be in relationship when our schedules are so filled we have no time for anyone else. We can’t love and be in relationship when we are so focused on our own issues. Reach out, get connected, love!
Sunday mornings are not a replacement for purposeful relationship. Relationships are built as we spend time and care for each other, outside of a weekly gathering at church. At New Covenant, our connect groups are designed as a tool to build relationship. We meet together in our homes and share our lives together, both our struggles and our victories. We surround ourselves with fellow believers who speak and encourage us. We worship and pray together and equip ourselves to minister to others. Much like the Acts 2 church, we have to be in relationship.
- Our group has been having a great time of really getting to know one another, getting comfortable with each other and being able to participate not only in discussion, but in prayer and prophetic ministry to each other. Each member stepped up and volunteered to lead 1-2 meetings. Topics have sometimes been pretty controversial, which has always lead to digging into Scripture during the meetings to find the truth of the matter, no matter what the topic. That may be the best part of our Connect meeting this last season!
- Our Connect group is a loving environment where we came together and brought forth prophetic words that changed destiny in each other’s lives. Marriages and families are supported, strengthened, and changed by our love for each other.
- We have grown in patience, dedication, and perseverance. We supported and encouraged each other. When we met together, the unity and flow of the Spirit and fellowship was always present. We enjoyed praying one for another, and the Lord spoke through visions, words of knowledge and prophecy.
- We grew closer as friends and enjoyed fellowship with one another. We encouraged each other in our marriages, were vulnerable and shared our struggles, and we ministered to each other.
- Our group was able to be vulnerable, yet bold enough to openly minister to each other in both prayer and the prophetic. We allowed God to flow and utilize us for His Glory. As we worshiped, we organically began to have words of wisdom for others, and spontaneously prayed for each other with boldness. At least one person discovered their primary gifting of the Holy Spirit.
All these things are done in an atmosphere of purposeful relationship. Jesus says to “love your neighbor”. As I bucked up against my own thinking of those I’m in relationship with, I wanted to run. But I was gently reminded of John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.” I used to think that verse meant I have to prove my love to God by what I do. But, that was a dangerous lie. What I think now is different. Jesus is telling me, “I love you. I know what is right and good for you. I know you love me. I don’t want anything to come between us in our relationship. Love what I love.”
My mind has been renewed on relationship. I have decided to yield my heart to the Lord. I want to be in relationship with those around me.
Will you join me and so many others in our church and community who are renewing their minds in purposeful relationship?