Do you know the difference between good and bad relationships?

Do you know the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships? Do you know makes a relationship good? healthy? righteous? Do you know how to have a good relationship? a healthy relationship? a righteous relationship?

Internet research say that a good relationship is where both partner

  • are happy with each other
  • can have constructive discussions and arguments if necessary (usually a rare occurence)
  • have unconditional love for one another
  • communicate and learn as they grow in their relationship with one another
  • respect one another

Internet research also says characteristics of a healthy relationship are…

  • both partners know that they are responsible for their own individual happiness
  • neither person is really trying to control or “fix” the other person
  • the relationship is balanced
  • conflicts are dealt with head-on and then dropped
  • feelings are shared honestly and openly
  • each person makes time to take care of themselves
  • both partners are willing to put the relationship before themselves
  • both people understand and accept that they’re not going to agree on everything
  • both truly value the relationship
  • they want to be together simply for the sake of being together

For a righteous relationship which is both good and healthy requires that we put Jesus in the middle! We need a Christ centered life and set of relationships. Jesus is the key…our relationship first with Him and then our relationships with others which will receive the overflow of your relationship with God. A strand of three cords is not easily broken!

We read about the importance of Jesus in Romans…

Righteousness Through Faith

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

–from Romans 3

Abraham Justified by Faith

1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

7 “Blessed are those
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
8 Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”
9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before!11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

–from Romans 4

Right Relationships — Day 116 – Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Proverbs 21-30, Luke 23:26-56, Joshua 9:16-27, Joshua 10

1. Blessings of the righteous … Proverbs 10:21-30

21The lips of the righteous nourish many,
but fools die for lack of sense.
22The blessing of the Lord brings wealth,
without painful toil for it.
23A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes,
but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.
24What the wicked dread will overtake them;
what the righteous desire will be granted.
25When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,
but the righteous stand firm forever.
26As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,
so are sluggards to those who send them.
27The fear of the Lord adds length to life,
but the years of the wicked are cut short.
28The prospect of the righteous is joy,
but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.
29The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless,
but it is the ruin of those who do evil.
30The righteous will never be uprooted,
but the wicked will not remain in the land.

–from Proverbs 10

Today’s devotional speaks to this as follows…

We see here some of the blessings that are promised to ‘the righteous’.

Difference to others

‘The lips of the righteous nourish many’ (v.21a). We cannot be righteous in isolation. Righteousness is about our relationships – it is about bringing blessing to others. Who could you ‘nourish’ (feed, guide, encourage) with your words today?

Delight in wisdom

‘Those who have insight delight in wisdom’ (v.23b). One of the things that come from a relationship with God is a hunger for knowledge and wisdom. Ask for wisdom today. God promises to give wisdom when you ask (James 1:5).

Desires fulfilled

‘What the righteous desire will be granted’ (Proverbs 10:24b). God’s Spirit begins to change your will to align it with his (Philippians 2:13) and, as it becomes aligned with his will, God promises to give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).

Destiny of joy

‘The prospect of the righteous is joy’ (Proverbs 10:28a). ‘The righteous stand firm forever’ (v.25b); ‘The fear of the Lord adds length to life’ (v.27a) and ‘The righteous will never be uprooted’ (v.30a). Right relationships are a source of great joy. Your joy is made ‘complete’ in a relationship with Jesus (John 15:11). Your destiny is eternal joy.

–from Day 116 – Bible In One Year 2017

2. The righteous for the unrighteous … Luke 23:26-56

26As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30Then

“ ‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”
and to the hills, “Cover us!” ’ 

31 For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
35The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
36The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
38There was a written notice above him, which read: this is THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
40But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
43Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The Death of Jesus

44It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
47The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

The Burial of Jesus

50Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. 53Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
55The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

–from Luke 23

When we accept Jesus into our hearts and lives, we are saved! We see this in today’s reading while on the cross. There is nothing we can do that will allow us to deserve to be saved! It’s a gift from God! We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus!

Today’s devotional speaks to this as follows…

This passage gives hope to us all. We see from the example of one of the criminals, who were executed with Jesus, that the moment you recognise your sin and turn to Jesus, you receive total forgiveness and are put in a ‘right relationship’ with God. This man did absolutely nothing to earn this gift. He did not even have the opportunity to be baptised. Yet, instantly, this criminal received the promise that on that same day he would be with Jesus in paradise (v.43). How is this possible?

Righteousness of Jesus

Is there someone who has hurt you whom you need to forgive today?

Jesus sets the bar very high in terms of the challenge to love our enemies – our critics, those who sneer and mock us. The test of our character is how we respond when we are suffering and in pain. Jesus, as he is being tortured on the cross, prays for his torturers: ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’ (v.34).

Jesus was living in a right relationship with God. His very last words recorded in Luke’s Gospel are: ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’ (v.46).

Even the Roman centurion, ‘seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man”’ (v.47).

Unrighteousness of us all

The righteousness of Jesus is contrasted with the people who stood watching, the rulers who sneered at Jesus (v.35), the soldiers who mocked him (v.36) and the criminals who were ‘punished justly’ and were getting what their ‘deeds deserved’ (v.41).

One of them hurled insults at Jesus. The other rebuked his fellow criminal and, turning to Jesus, he recognised his own sin (‘We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve’, v.41a) and the righteousness of Jesus (‘This man has done nothing wrong’, v.41b). Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’ (v.42). Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise’ (v.43).

Righteous died for the unrighteous

This passage is full of irony. As the rulers sneer at Jesus, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One’ (v.35). The soldiers mock, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself’ (v.37).

One of the criminals calls on him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ (v.39). Actually, he is dying in order to save them and us. But in doing so he cannot save himself. He is dying as ‘the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God’ (1 Peter 3:18).

The curtain of the temple is torn in two (Luke 23:45) symbolising that through the death of Jesus, access to the presence of God is made possible for everyone. Jesus has made it possible for you and me to have a right relationship with God.

‘Righteous’ or ‘unrighteous’?

In the contrast between the two criminals and the difference in their reaction to Jesus, Luke lays before us the decision we all need to make. You can reject Jesus, as one of them did. Or you can put your faith in him, as the other one did when he turned to Jesus and said, ‘Jesus, remember me’ (v.42).

Although many at the time rejected Jesus, others put their faith in him. For example, Joseph of Arimathea, ‘a good and upright man’ (v.50), came to believe in Jesus. He had not consented to the decision of the council (v.51), was waiting for the kingdom of God (v.51) and arranged a dignified burial for Jesus.

The women who had come with Jesus also put their faith in him. They ‘followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment’ (vv.55–56).

You too get to choose. If you put your faith in Jesus, he promises that, like the criminal who turned to him, you too will be with him in paradise.

If you ever feel the burden to try to earn God’s love, you can be comforted by this passage that there is nothing you can do to make God love you more and there is nothing you can do to make God love you less.

–from Day 116 – Bible In One Year 2017

3. Righteous by faith … Joshua 9:16-10:43

16Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them. 17So the Israelites set out and on the third day came to their cities: Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim. 18But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the assembly had sworn an oath to them by the Lord, the God of Israel.
The whole assembly grumbled against the leaders, 19but all the leaders answered, “We have given them our oath by the Lord, the God of Israel, and we cannot touch them now. 20This is what we will do to them: We will let them live, so that God’s wrath will not fall on us for breaking the oath we swore to them.” 21They continued, “Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers in the service of the whole assembly.” So the leaders’ promise to them was kept.
22Then Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said, “Why did you deceive us by saying, ‘We live a long way from you,’ while actually you live near us? 23You are now under a curse: You will never be released from service as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”
24They answered Joshua, “Your servants were clearly told how the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you the whole land and to wipe out all its inhabitants from before you. So we feared for our lives because of you, and that is why we did this. 25We are now in your hands. Do to us whatever seems good and right to you.”
26So Joshua saved them from the Israelites, and they did not kill them. 27That day he made the Gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the assembly, to provide for the needs of the altar of the Lord at the place the Lord would choose. And that is what they are to this day.

–from Joshua 9

The Sun Stands Still

1Now Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had taken Ai and totally destroyed it, doing to Ai and its king as he had done to Jericho and its king, and that the people of Gibeon had made a treaty of peace with Israel and had become their allies. 2He and his people were very much alarmed at this, because Gibeon was an important city, like one of the royal cities; it was larger than Ai, and all its men were good fighters. 3So Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem appealed to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish and Debir king of Eglon. 4“Come up and help me attack Gibeon,” he said, “because it has made peace with Joshua and the Israelites.”
5Then the five kings of the Amorites—the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon—joined forces. They moved up with all their troops and took up positions against Gibeon and attacked it.
6The Gibeonites then sent word to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal: “Do not abandon your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us! Help us, because all the Amorite kings from the hill country have joined forces against us.”
7So Joshua marched up from Gilgal with his entire army, including all the best fighting men. 8The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.”
9After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. 10The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel, so Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 11As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.
12On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel:
“Sun, stand still over Gibeon,
and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”
13So the sun stood still,
and the moon stopped,
till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,
as it is written in the Book of Jashar.
The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. 14There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!
15Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.

Five Amorite Kings Killed

16Now the five kings had fled and hidden in the cave at Makkedah. 17When Joshua was told that the five kings had been found hiding in the cave at Makkedah, 18he said, “Roll large rocks up to the mouth of the cave, and post some men there to guard it. 19But don’t stop; pursue your enemies! Attack them from the rear and don’t let them reach their cities, for the Lord your God has given them into your hand.”
20So Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely, but a few survivors managed to reach their fortified cities. 21The whole army then returned safely to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah, and no one uttered a word against the Israelites.
22Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring those five kings out to me.” 23So they brought the five kings out of the cave—the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon. 24When they had brought these kings to Joshua, he summoned all the men of Israel and said to the army commanders who had come with him, “Come here and put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came forward and placed their feet on their necks.
25Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” 26Then Joshua put the kings to death and exposed their bodies on five poles, and they were left hanging on the poles until evening.
27At sunset Joshua gave the order and they took them down from the poles and threw them into the cave where they had been hiding. At the mouth of the cave they placed large rocks, which are there to this day.

Southern Cities Conquered

28That day Joshua took Makkedah. He put the city and its king to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it. He left no survivors. And he did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho.
29Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Makkedah to Libnah and attacked it. 30The Lord also gave that city and its king into Israel’s hand. The city and everyone in it Joshua put to the sword. He left no survivors there. And he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.
31Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Libnah to Lachish; he took up positions against it and attacked it. 32The Lord gave Lachish into Israel’s hands, and Joshua took it on the second day. The city and everyone in it he put to the sword, just as he had done to Libnah. 33Meanwhile, Horam king of Gezer had come up to help Lachish, but Joshua defeated him and his army—until no survivors were left.
34Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Lachish to Eglon; they took up positions against it and attacked it. 35They captured it that same day and put it to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it, just as they had done to Lachish.
36Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron and attacked it. 37They took the city and put it to the sword, together with its king, its villages and everyone in it. They left no survivors. Just as at Eglon, they totally destroyed it and everyone in it.
38Then Joshua and all Israel with him turned around and attacked Debir. 39They took the city, its king and its villages, and put them to the sword. Everyone in it they totally destroyed. They left no survivors. They did to Debir and its king as they had done to Libnah and its king and to Hebron.
40So Joshua subdued the whole region, including the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills and the mountain slopes, together with all their kings. He left no survivors. He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded. 41Joshua subdued them from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza and from the whole region of Goshen to Gibeon. 42All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.
43Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.

–from Joshua 10

Today’s devotional for this part of our reading closes with the following…

There was every reason for Joshua to be very afraid. But God said to Joshua, as he says to you and me today, ‘Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous’ (10:25).

The name of the king of Jerusalem was Adoni-Zedek (v.1). ‘Zedek’ means ‘righteous’. However, in all probability he was far from righteous. It is likely that the people living in Canaan at that time were involved in all kinds of child sacrifices and other evil practices.

On the other hand, Joshua was living a life in a right relationship with God. The New Testament makes clear that the righteousness of Joshua, like Abraham and others in the Old Testament, came by ‘faith’ (Romans 3:21 – 4:25). Joshua was a man of faith (Hebrews 11:30).

The results of the death of Jesus are not confined to those who lived after him. The death of Jesus affected those who lived before him as well. Jesus died for Abraham, Moses and Joshua. He died for the criminal on the cross. He died for me. He died for you. We are made righteous: ‘This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe’ (Romans 3:22).

–from Day 116 – Bible In One Year 2017


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