Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. Philippians 4:1 (ESV)

One of the great opportunities that Nyree and I have is to travel and preach at various churches on Sunday. While it doesn’t happen often, we love to spend time in worship services with our pastor friends. We love to see what God is doing in churches and how people are passionate about following God’s will.

Today, we traveled a couple of hours one way to preach this morning and spend time with a church in need. While it was different than what we were used to due to the nature of our visit, it was good to be with this church.

Finishing up early, we began our trip back home and happened to be traveling through a community where friends of ours pastor. They did not know we were in the area, so we decided to stop in for a surprise visit.

They were so excited that we stopped in and gave us a grand tour of their facility and talked about all that they had going on. It was so great to visit with them about what was currently happening and the plans that they had.

John and Britney had joined us for a Healthy Church training that we do each year. Leading pastors like them, along with their leadership team to develop a healthy vision and strategy for the future.

Their excitement in seeing us and sharing the great things that were going on at the church was rejuvenating to us. Their passion for what God is doing through the church is an encouragement to us. When we left, we felt so much joy because of our visit!

It brought back to remembrance part of the scripture that I had spoken from earlier in the day. Paul taught the Philippians about how to have joy during the troubles and difficulties of life.

He reminded them of the love and friendship that he had for them as he opens Philippians 4, calling them brothers and beloved. it was this relationship that was mutually beneficial to both him and them.

The benefit for both was not just a “knowing about each other,” but a relationship that encouraged and strengthened each other. It is what sustained each of them during the difficult seasons of their lives.

I am grateful for the relationships that we have been able to develop. Today reminded me of the opportunity we have to receive the blessing of relationships but also bless others with our friendship. When we offer a kind and caring hand to others, it blesses and strengthens.

Take time to reach out to fellow believers to encourage them. We live in a turbulent world and the relationships that we have will sustain us in the battle. God designed the church this way for our benefit and His glory.

In a day and time when the church seems to not be as connected as before, we need to be vigilant at connecting in relationships with one another. We need it more today than ever!



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