August 21, 2017

Deepening Your Relationships

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) 

The most important word in the English language apart from proper nouns is relationship. You might think it would be love, but where is love going without a relationship? Relationships are the tracks on which love travels. The Great Commandment involves relationships – loving God and loving others. The writer of Hebrews offers clear insights for making the most of our relationships so that we experience all that God intended for our relationships to please Him. We’ve talked about the first three insights: focusing on Christ to meet our deepest needs, getting rid of distractions, and eliminating destructive words. Here are the final two insights from Hebrews 12:

Connect with a community of Christ followers.

I’ve often thought about this great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us according to Hebrews 12:1. Who are they? I envision them like spotters in a race, looking down to cheer runners on to finish the race just as they finished theirs. I can almost hear them sometimes when I’m tired or discouraged and tempted to quit. They are shouting from heaven saying, “Don’t quit!” “Never give up!” “You can make it!” “You can do it with God’s power!” I can’t prove this is the case. But, one thing I can prove – the benefit of being connected to a community of Christ’s followers here! There is no substitute for the local church! We need to surround ourselves with Christ-filled encouragers, people who come alongside you to hold you up in prayer with an encouraging word. I challenge you to join a local church if you haven’t done so already. Connect with a community of Christ followers by joining a small group, and take your relationships to another level!  

We invite you to consider Woodlands Church as your church home where you can connect with a community of Christ followers going in the same direction. Join us for lunch this Sunday following the final morning service at any of our Woodlands Church campuses and check out the benefits of membership at our Fall Kick-Off Membership Class. You can register now! Lunch is free, and we have classes for the whole family!  Take a step of faith this fall and deepen your relationship with God and others. 

Look past the current pain and see a future hope.

There is no greater example of this than Jesus. Hebrews tells us,

fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross ….” 

What was the joy set before Him that gave Him the strength to endure the cross with all of its suffering? The joy set before Him was you! Jesus looked beyond the pain of the cross to see the joy ahead – the joy of a people that would be forgiven and reconciled to God through His death! When you look to Jesus, He fills you with hope! Hope has a name! His name is Jesus! The weeping prophet, Jeremiah, once said,

“Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: the Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunshine. The Lord is all I have, and so in Him I put my hope.”  Lamentations 3:21-24 (TEV) 

You can make the most of your relationships and take them to a new depth of intimacy when you focus on Christ to meet your deepest needs, get rid of distractions, eliminate destructive words, learn how to fight fair, connect with a community of Christ followers and look past the current pain to see a future hope! God designed you for community.  Make the most of it!