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When you're having a tough day and need some encouragement to get over the hump, does God appear to you in a puffy little cloud of glory and say, "Be thou encouraged, My child?" Probably not. How about a dream, a vision or a voice from heaven to lift you out of the doldrums? Probably not.

Actually, He's more likely to send someone you know to pat you on the back and tell you, "Cheer up! You're doing a good job and you're going to make it." Or if money is what you need, God could certainly stick His hand out the window of heaven's sufficiency and drop a sack of coins on your head.

But it's more likely that someone you know will come by at just the right time and say, "God put it on my heart that you needed this and I'd like to give it to you." Simply put - God's primary channel for meeting your needs - or anyone else's - is people.

But if you haven't taken time and made the effort to build relationships with the people around you, then you risk cutting off God's channels of ministry to you - and through you. So how do you keep those channels open? Communication. Good communication.

Get in the Flow!
Your ability to communicate determines the quality of your relationships and accordingly affects the flow of God's ministry into and out of your life. For example, if a person is secure in your love, God can use you to bring direction or ministry to that person's life.

But if you haven't learned to communicate your heart of love, no matter how genuine it may be, it won't do either of you any good. It's as though you never loved them to begin with, and ministry isn't likely to happen.

Communication is the key. It's how we establish and maintain relationships with each other. But you can be certain that communication is not a spiritual gift from God - it's an acquired skill. You have to work at it and work at it. You have to learn how to communicate.

Let's start learning by looking to God's Word and seeing what it takes to develop those relationships that we so desperately need every day of our lives. The kind of relationships that God can use as a channel to pour His blessings into us - and out of us.

The Word clearly defines good communication in Ephesians:
Speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together.
(Eph. 4:15-16)
Good communication is, first of all, "speaking the truth in love."

As we speak truth to one another in a loving way, we grow up into Christ and become perfectly joined together. That is what the Body of Christ is all about - believers building strong, godly relationships by speaking the truth to each other in every situation and speaking it in a loving way. This keeps the channels of God's ministry to us open and full, flooding our lives with His blessings and overflowing into the people around us.

But let's face it, speaking the truth in love does not happen naturally. Our human flesh wants to do everything but speak the truth - never mind speaking it in a loving way.

In Ephesians 4:22-25 it says,
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor.
(Eph. 4:22-25)
The most basic challenge of our daily Christian walk is to put off the old man and put on the new one. Our old nature is corrupt and inconsistent with the flow of ministry God wants to bring into and through our life.

Deception's True Color
So how do we put off our old nature and put on the new one? Notice that the entire process is rooted in first putting away lying and speaking truth instead. The most basic tendency of our old fleshly nature is to lie. Whether the lie is bold, black, gray or white, our old man wants to speak anything but the truth. Speaking the truth is the first step to effective communication.

Now before you get too comfortable in thinking that you're basically an honest person and you've got this "speaking the truth" part down pat, consider this: a recent survey has established that the average person tells about two hundred lies a day.

These are not necessarily flat-out lies. They can be slight misrepresentations of the truth or exaggerations of the truth. But they're still not the truth. The tendency to shade the truth is there...in our old nature.

Not only do we have our old nature to overcome in speaking the truth, but we also live in a corrupt world which I believe desensitizes us to lies - however "white" they may seem. Falsehoods rain down on our heads every day through the media, and we're constantly challenged to discern truth from lies.

Evidence of disregard for truth is all around us. Banks won't cash an out-of-town check. Stores won't take returned merchandise without a receipt. It seems you have to use two forms of identification to do almost anything these days.

So with our old, lying nature trying to kick up and our society structured to accommodate dishonesty and deception, we have to be all the more determined to focus our attention on the truth and speak only the truth.

What is that truth? There are two kinds of truth: temporal (natural truth), and spiritual (God's Word). Temporal truth (such as "it's raining") can be measured by circumstantial evidence, while spiritual truth (such as life after death) can only be measured by the Word of God. On those occasions when there seems to be contradiction between the two realms of truth, choose the Word of God.

Don't forget that this natural world was created by the Word of God, so as you speak that Word (truth) in love, you can cause circumstantial truth to change - eliminating those points of contradiction.

As believers we base our lives on God's Word. We do that by filling our heads, our hearts and our mouths with the Word of God - leaving no room for lies or deceptions to interfere in our communication and relationships with people. We speak the truth based on God's Word to every person, in every situation.

However, speaking the truth is not enough. The second step in effective communication is love..."speaking the truth in love."

Throw Down Your Weapons!
Truth alone can be damaging to your relationships. Like a sharp sword, telling someone the truth can wound, cause pain, and even kill your relationship with them.

If your motive for speaking truth to someone is anything but love, or if the way you express it is anything but loving, the truth can hurt them. And that is not at all God's purpose for truth in our relationships, especially when it comes to relationships within the Body of Christ.

God intends for the truth to build us up, not tear us down. Yet too often we take up truth as a weapon, intending to cause harm. So even if you're simply speaking God's Word to someone about a situation, you should speak it in love. Check your motive before you go to someone to tell him a bit of truth. Make sure it's love, because love tempers the truth so that it is not harsh or abrasive.

When you speak the truth in a loving way, it does not sound rude or arrogant. Rather, it becomes easier for people to receive the truth - even when it may seem hard-hitting - because you are presenting it in a non-threatening way. Speaking the truth and speaking it in love are two steps to good communication.

Be a Body Builder
As we step into this attitude and habit of speaking the truth to each other in love, we grow up together and become strong in Christ. We get more in touch and more involved with the people around us.

And as needs arise within this network of relationships, God uses us to supply or give what we have - time, money, encouragement, love - to meet the needs that are within our reach. Eventually this process affects the whole Body. By supplying to each other, we supply to the Body.

But here is what I really want you to see. Paul closes Ephesians 4:16 by saying, "maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." The result of right, godly relationships is increase.

When we enter into these right relationships that we have built by good communication, we increase. We increase in God's love, we increase in His peace, we increase in His joy. In fact, we increase in everything that makes us more closely conformed to the image of Christ. That's true for you individually and for us corporately as the Church.

Why? Because when the Body of Christ is all rightly related, there are more channels of provision coming in and more channels of ministry going out. God's blessings can flow freely.

But notice that the benefits don't stop there. The final result of all this increase is that we are edified, or built-up in love - individually and corporately - which is one of the primary fruits of right relationships. So if you've been wondering where God's help was when you needed it, it's okay to have a glorious vision of God personally ministering to you from heaven. But take a look around you.

How are your relationships? The help you've been waiting for may be only an arm's reach away. Get in touch with the people around you and start working on those relationships by focusing your attention on God's Word, determining that you're going to speak the truth to everyone, and in every situation, and speaking every word with the purpose of love and in a way of love.

When you do these things, you'll begin to communicate more effectively and develop stronger relationships - relationships that will edify the Body of Christ and allow God's ministry and blessing to flow in the earth today - into you, throughout the Church and around the world.

Source: One Word From God Can Change Your Relationships by Mac Hammond.
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Mac Hammond
Web site: Mac Hammond
 
Mac Hammond is senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center, a large and growing church in Brooklyn Park (a suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota. He is the host of the Winner’s Minute, which is seen locally in the Minneapolis area and can also be viewed at winnersminute.com. He is also the host of the Winner’s Way broadcast and author of several internationally distributed books. Mac is broadly acclaimed for his ability to apply the principles of the Bible to practical situations and the challenges of daily living.
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