Relations

by Carolyn Hope

Life is full of different relationships. Every person is unique, and as such, so is every relationship or interaction between two or more people. Sometimes, relationships can get extremely challenging or perhaps seem like a drag. As a task-oriented person, I can attest to occasionally feeling like people are distractions. In reality, however, life is about relationships and people; indeed, God is about relationships and people.

This week, I want to explore a few different types of relationships, highlighted in some accounts from Scripture. The way we act toward family and the way we behave with friends is not the same. While in no way will this be a thorough, complete, or exhaustive exploration, I hope to get you started in viewing the interactions of people in Scripture as relational advice for our own lives. From foreign relations to the relationship we have with our Father in heaven, the Bible covers it all. Every story, record, and verse in the Word is full of principles that are beneficial for the life God has called us to live.

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Supporting Actress: Elizabeth

by Carolyn Hope

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:35-37)

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:41-45)

Gabriel gave Mary a verifiable truth: Elizabeth was six months pregnant. This was a way to test his word. Mary could go and see for herself that her old cousin who could never get pregnant in her prime was now with child in her old age. If God can take a dead womb and make it live again, can He not also create a child without a man? If He can do the impossible with Elizabeth, can He not also do the impossible with Mary? I love that the proof was found in her own family. She didn’t have to go far and find some stranger to see if it was true. It was her very own relative whom she loved and was familiar with. She could go and find solace and comfort, as well as protection and faith, with her dear Elizabeth.

When Mary came to Zechariah’s house, she was greeted by Elizabeth, but the words that came from her mouth were from the Lord, not herself. What God spoke through Elizabeth directly confirmed everything that Mary had already been told. God watched over Mary and cared well for her heart. He comforted her and encouraged her through her cousin.

No doubt it took much courage, character, and grit to return home as an unmarried pregnant woman. That’s why it was good and important for Mary to stay with Elizabeth for the first three months of her pregnancy. She needed someone who would believe in her and in what God was doing in her. She needed a friend who would encourage her, build her up in faith, and prepare her heart to be courageous for what lay ahead. Elizabeth very clearly believed in Mary and spoke life to her, from the moment they greeted each other. I believe that being with Elizabeth for the first trimester of Mary’s pregnancy helped her face everyone else back home.

There are many ways that God confirms His Word and encourages us. One of the primary ways is through other people. There are people in your life that God has sent to strengthen and build up your faith and courage. Let these dear ones into your life; let them speak truth to your heart. Receive their love.

You also are such a person to someone. Ask the Lord to show you how best to encourage and build up those you love and those He has strategically placed in your life. You can be a deep well of comfort and hope to others.

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Reasons to be Grateful: People

by Carolyn Hope

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. (Philippians 1:3)

As Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, he was overflowing with joy. He opens his letter by saying that he thanks the Lord every time he thinks of them. Throughout the whole book of Philippians, Paul writes with a tangible love and joy for this group of people.

There are some people who bring us great joy and pleasure. Whenever we think of them, we can’t keep from smiling. These people are very dear to our hearts, and we long to see them do well and receive all that God has for them.

Who are the people in your life that your heart swells for? Maybe you have many, or perhaps just a few. Whoever they are, thank God for them and pray for them to receive all His blessings, in this life and the next. If you already do that, tell them personally how you feel. Sharing the gratitude in your heart with them can be very powerful in their lives, and will certainly be encouraging. As we celebrate a Day of Thanksgiving today, remind yourself of the people who mean the most to you, and let them know how they’ve impacted you.

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