Tag Archives: relationship with Jesus

Relationship pt 4

But what about sin? Does sin separate us from Jesus? No! Jesus conquered sin in our lives and destroyed the effects of sin. Sin makes us feel separated from Him, but once we realize that we have wandered it is easy to come back. Remember that not one of your sins has ever surprised Him. If He was not surprised, then He was not disappointed. He knew what you would do from the moment He conceived you in His heart. He loves you and He accepts you. Isn’t that amazing? It isn’t about sin, it’s about the love of God!

So, in a relationship with Jesus you live with the full awareness that He is real, He is present, and He loves you. You know in the core of your heart that He has taken into account all your inadequacies, all your wandering, and all your fears. He still loves you. He has still chosen to be your Life. He is still your strength, hope, righteousness and more. Whatever you need, He is.

You can get up in the morning with the fullness of joy in your heart. You are just as acceptable to God as you will be 10,000 years from now in Heaven. He is with you and He smiles at you. He wants to walk with you through your day. You talk with Him along the way and you listen for His voice. Whether you go to work or stay home with children or whatever, He is there. His gentleness and kindness is part of your life, easy to access because there is so much of it. When you don’t know what to do, you ask and you trust that He will lead. You don’t need to be afraid of what lies ahead because He is just as much with you in the future as He is today… no matter what.

And when you go to bed at night, you sleep with the rest of someone who is loved beyond any earthly love by a real Person who is strong and trustworthy; Someone who accepts you without reservation and loves to be with you; Someone who has promised that He will never leave you and who has prepared a wonder-filled future for you. It is all good!

Finally, if I were you, reading this, I would ask, “So, Dave, is this what your life is like?” I wish! But it is moving in that direction. The old ways are hard to overcome. The fears and challenges still seem real. But, honestly, more and more I am learning to trust Him, learning that He loves me, learning to live in relationship with Him. I share my heart with Him and He not only listens, but He speaks. Many times He has led me to say the right thing, to be there for a friend, or to know the peace of His acceptance by speaking to my heart. I know without doubt that the day will come when all hindrances will be gone forever and the relationship I have with Him will be complete and perfect. What a day of rejoicing that will be!

One more thing: Relationships are personal. One person’s relationship, even with the Lord, might not look like another’s. Samson’s relationship with God was different than David’s, whose was quite different from that of Moses. It would not be appropriate to prescribe a certain look or style. My concern is simply that God wants to have a personal relationship with each of His people.

Comments?  Questions?

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Relationship pt 3

So, does God accept us? Does God accept Jesus? Of course He does and, in Christ, we are accepted. Our acceptance is a gift, the life of Jesus flowing within us. You see, because of Jesus – Who is the Person of God’s love and grace – we have been restored to a full and free relationship with God. We walk and talk with Jesus as people who are fully loved by the One who is our Strength, our Victory, our Righteousness, our Future, and our eternal Friend.

What does that look like? I suspect that it looks a lot like it must have looked in the Garden of Eden. Picture Adam waking in the morning. Had he been afraid during the night? Did he chastise himself about the things he didn’t get done the day before? Did he determine to work harder in the new day? We know that he had work to do. Did Adam worry about the produce of the Garden? I don’t think so. Instead, his life was very good. No worries! No fear! No rejection!

Suppose that we could get up in the morning with the full knowledge of the love of God and the awareness that He will be present with us through the day. How easy would it be to talk with Him? We do our work with the joy of participating with Him and there is no concern that we may not measure up or that we may fail. What if we could just ask Him what to do and then do it? We go to sleep at night without anxiety for the future, for the things left undone, for the errors of the day. We can give the things of the day to Him, thank Him for being with us, and trust Him for tomorrow.

One of the things Jesus said about us is that we would hear and recognize His voice. Yet, most believers would say that they struggle with this. They don’t know the voice of their Lord and they wonder what they should do next. This is a serious topic and broad, but let me simply say that the Lord wants you to know His voice and He loves hearing yours as you relate to Him.

You can talk with Jesus – anytime, anywhere! There is no barrier between the two of you. You can tell Him your concerns and listen for His response. You can ask for His leading and trust that He will lead. You can thank Him for His kindness and know that He appreciates your acknowledgement. And you can praise Him just for Who He is.

But that isn’t all of it. He responds! Remember that He wants to lead you and He wants you to hear Him. It may not be audible, but it is still real. If you are not used to hearing Him, it may take some time, but trust that He does speak to you. Sometimes you can look back to see how He spoke/led in the past. Sometimes you can just wait until you have a sense that He has told you what to do. Other times you just yield your will to Him and then do what you think is right. If it isn’t right, He will show you or turn you to another direction. Trust Him!

That still isn’t all of it. He doesn’t only respond. Sometimes He initiates the conversation. Listen for His voice. You have probably heard Him from time to time. He prompts you to talk with someone or to do something. When you do it, you are amazed at the results. He led you to just what the other person needed.

Let me give a specific example. Suppose you feel led to share the gospel with someone. You may be scared to do it, but you know that it is the right thing to do because you believe that the Lord is leading. You share and the person is ready to hear and receive. The Lord has prepared the way and you have heard His voice.

But let’s suppose that you prepare and pray and fuss and then the person walks away from you without accepting the Lord. What happened? Most of us are tempted to think that we did something wrong, that if we had done a better job that person might have been saved. We fill our lives with guilt from failure and poor results. But perhaps the plan of God was simply to have that person hear the gospel. That person might go away and, at some later time, accept His love on the basis of the seed you were able to plant. Would that make you feel differently?

God rarely shares the full story of His plan with us. He just asks us to walk with Him. He gave you the words to say and somewhere, in the midst of your rambling, you said them. The person heard them and that little part of God’s plan was accomplished. It wasn’t about you. You were just along while God was working.

Now, if you could walk into that with the understanding that this is the work of God and you can trust Him for whatever results will come, and if you could walk away thanking Him for the opportunity to share in His work, you wouldn’t have to feel guilty or ashamed because of your poor speech or presentation. Of course you want the person to become a believer, but God wants that more than you do.

Can you trust that God loves others more than you do? That He wants them to benefit from His work? If you can, you can learn to rest and enjoy what He does in them. You do whatever He asks you to do and you leave the rest to Him. Even in these most important things, we can find rest because of our relationship with Jesus.

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Conversation

Grace 101

How important is conversation in a relationship?  It doesn’t have to be much, but it does have to be something.  Most of us enjoy a good long talk with a special person.  Communication is part of building and maintaining a relationship.

I often refer to our relationship with Jesus.  We connect with Him as our Friend, our Brother, our Lord.  Yet, many people struggle with the conversation part.  For some it is easier to keep God at a distance because they fear His judgment.  For others, the distance is there because they simply don’t know anything else.  God was always distant.  But there is no relationship with someone who is so far away.

Our connection with Jesus, with God, is a real relationship.  That means He is with us and we are with Him.  But if we are together and never talk, is that really being together?

Now, I realize that’s a description of some marriages and families; and I understand that there are other ways to communicate than talking.  But conversation is part of getting to know another person and entering into that person’s world.  We could try to guess what someone thinks or feels, but we don’t know unless we know from them.

Over the past few Grace 101 posts, we have looked at things that hinder the message of grace and, lately, things that encourage it.  The good ground is prepared with good support from others and by understanding the message God has already given to us.  In “church-speak” that means fellowship and Scripture.  Outside of a grace perspective these things have often been difficult for believers, but they are great blessings for those who are beginning to understand grace.

Another blessing we have, which will encourage the growth of our understanding of grace, is prayer.  Again, I understand that prayer has been a burden for many because of the various rules and approaches prescribed by some teachers.  But what if prayer was just talking, just conversation?  What if it didn’t have to be formal all the time?  We can envision conversations between spouses in old King James English, but that isn’t who we are.  Why can’t our conversation with Jesus be just as relaxed as those with anyone close to us?

Well, there is one thing.  We don’t hear His voice respond.  We ask a question, but we don’t hear an answer.  We express our concern about something, but He doesn’t seem to reply.  As someone just told me, “I just felt emptiness.  Like nothing was there.”  What can you do when you can’t hear a voice?

I want to write about this in more depth over the next couple of posts, but let me give a simple answer here: God is not limited to words.  When you listen for a response from Jesus, listen with more than your ears.  Listen with your heart.  Watch to see if things change.  Open yourself to His answer.  You are able to receive much more than what your ears can hear.

In the next few posts: Why legalists can’t hear God.  How God speaks to us.  Why grace makes all the difference.  How to relax and just talk with Jesus.  What to do when He is silent.  Why prayer is vital for the life of grace.

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In His Presence

The most important revelation of our lives, the fact that makes the most serious change in us, is the understanding that other people are real.  This happens so early in our lives that we have long forgotten its impact, yet we continue to struggle with this knowledge throughout our days.  So important is this understanding that those who fail to grasp it are handicapped in their relationships and in their daily lives.

In many ways, our television and internet culture has made this even more difficult for us.  Our feelings—emotional connections—for people are manipulated and twisted by fictional stories designed to move us to empathize with people who are not real.  Then, when we see others, perhaps on the news, we feel something less than empathy.  Someone loses their home in a fire; someone’s child dies in a war; someone is hurt in an accident—and we say that’s too bad.  But we will never meet them, never be able to help them in a personal way, and never really care.  The news is just one more source of entertainment, albeit one that isn’t fiction (or so we are told).

I suspect this is part of the reason for the increase in reality shows.  We desire relationship and we want it to be real.  Fiction pulls at our hearts, but offers no connection that will reveal our identity.  I might care about Macbeth or Jean Valjean or Jack Bauer, but I learn nothing about myself in a fictional character.  Somehow the fact that the person in a reality show is a real person seems to promise more to me.  I believe that I might actually be able to connect with the person.  Sadly, the deception of the reality show is that there is little reality involved.

You see, I learn about myself through the eyes and thoughts of others.  In fiction or television I can see them, but they cannot see me.  I need them to see me.  They are the real mirrors in which I learn about myself.

Perhaps you can remember an experience where you suddenly realize that a person sees you, really sees you.  They might have a funny look about them.  They might be looking right into your eyes.  It isn’t a bad thing, but it can be unnerving.  Something has been revealed and you are moved to understand what it was.  And you learn.

And when you realize that a personal God really sees you, you as an individual, the doors to eternity open.  Suddenly your relationship with Him holds the promise of revealing the truth about you.

In response to the last post on identity, TacticianJenro asked how our relationship with Jesus can be personal.  If that is the relationship we are to have with Him, how does it happen?  This is the question that centers our faith and rocks our world.  This is the most important question of our lives.

The answer is intensely personal, yet as simple as the development of any relationship.  Let me risk a few basic suggestions.

  1. Believe that He is real.  Not just an idea, but a Person.
  2. Believe that He has an interest in you.  He sees you.  He knows when you lie down and when you get up, as David said.  He knows what you like and what you want and what you are afraid of and what you struggle against and what you worry about.  He knows more about you than you know about you.  And He loves you.
  3. Believe that He is with you.  He never leaves you.  He is always near.  These are things the Scriptures make very clear.

He is real.  He loves you.  He is with you.  This is not fiction or deception.  This is reality and it makes a difference.

Now, live as though you believe this.  Think about Him.  Talk with Him.  Ask Him things and expect answers.  Walk through life with Him.  That’s what the Christian life is all about.  Service, sacrifice, devotion—all the things of the Christian life that we were taught—all come out of this reality of His presence or they are just more fiction.

The relationship of a young man and a young woman is about being with each other.  They spend time together and learn.  In the process they each learn about the other, but they also learn about themselves.  The more time they spend together, the more they are able to give of themselves.  The more they give of themselves, the more they see and receive from the other.  This is how a relationship is supposed to work.

Our relationship with Jesus is nothing less than the most precious relationship in our lives, but it is just as simple as presence.  Learn to live in His presence.  Let that be your prayer.  The goal and the activity of the rest of your life.

And in the process, you will be becoming who you are.

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Relatonshp? Something’s missing.

 

I recently saw a title that said, “Take the ‘I’ out of your relationship.”  The idea, I suppose, was that we should not be in a relationship for what we can get, but for what we can give.  Our thoughts should be about the other person, rather than ourselves.

Well, that’s nice.  Not very realistic, but nice.  In fact, it isn’t even right, no matter how nice it is.

You see, there is no relationship without the “I.”  It might be service or duty or responsibility, but it isn’t relationship.  Relationship is shared.

Over the years I have talked and written a great deal about our relationship with Jesus.  I believe that our only right connection with Him is in relationship.  There are people who think of Jesus as their Master (which He is) and they believe they have a life of duty and obedience toward Him, but not a relationship with Him.  Some people think of Him as their Judge (which He is) and believe they have to walk carefully in His presence so they do nothing to offend Him.  Some think of Him as Creator (which He is) and believe He is too busy or too far away for a real relationship.  I want people to think of Jesus as their friend, an intimate and loving Friend who walks with them and talks with them in personal relationship.

But I often get questions from people who almost cannot believe such a relationship is possible.  They say, “I was never taught that Jesus wanted a relationship with me.  My life was too full of evil and confusion for Him.”  It wasn’t that they doubted God’s love.  It was that they doubted God’s love for them.  I heard a pastor say once, “I teach people that God loves them, but I have never really believed that He loves me.”

This is the result of telling believers that they are still sinners, still unworthy of God’s love.  The message that we must continually reject our “selves” is a message that robs us of the ability to live in relationship.   If a young woman is told that marriage is about denying her self and focusing only on the husband, she will never really enter into a relationship she can enjoy.  If our relationship with God is all about how we must deny our selves or even put our selves to death, then we will never know the joy of salvation and the peace of divine friendship.

Let’s face it: I must be a part of any relationship that includes love or satisfaction or joy.  And listen, Jesus wants me in that relationship with Him.

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