Inspirational Thought of the Day:
Having a relationship with God means we rely on Him.
Scripture of the Day:
“I relied completely on the Lord, and he turned toward me and heard my cry for help.2 He lifted me out of the watery pit, out of the slimy mud. He placed my feet on a rock and gave me secure footing. 3 He gave me reason to sing a new song, praising our God. May many see what God has done, so that they might swear allegiance to him and trust in the Lord! 4 How blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord and does not seek help from the proud or from liars! 5 O Lord, my God, you have accomplished many things; you have done amazing things and carried out your purposes for us. No one can thwart you! I want to declare them and talk about them, but they are too numerous to recount! 6 Receiving sacrifices and offerings are not your primary concern. You make that quite clear to me! You do not ask for burnt sacrifices and sin offerings. 7 Then I say, “Look! I come! What is written in the scroll pertains to me. 8 I want to do what pleases you, my God. Your law dominates my thoughts.” 9 I have told the great assembly about your justice. Look! I spare no words! O Lord, you know this is true. 10 I have not failed to tell about your justice; I spoke about your reliability and deliverance; I have not neglected to tell the great assembly about your loyal love and faithfulness.”
I remember well the time when I first told someone the difference between Christianity and religion. “It is about a relationship with God, not just following rules”. Somehow my words did not have a real profound effect on my audience. How do we have a relationship with a spiritual being we cannot see? What in the world did having a relationship with God look like?
Deep down mankind knows we are a needful breed. Born in sin, our every inclination is evil. But God. Like Adam, man tries to make our own fig leaves to cover our sin. We try to placate or cover over our sin – maybe even rationalize or make excuses – and then seek to follow a religion that will make us feel better about ourselves. But deep down there is an emptiness that religion just cannot fill.
Enter Jesus. Jesus – God incarnate – came as a man to relate with His creation that He had lovingly made. Why would He want to relate with His people? Why wouldn’t He? He is a Holy God, loving and kind and wants his people to know Him. When I consider the children God has graciously given to me, I cannot fathom not having a relationship with them. This helps me to understand the heart of God.
We were not made for religion. We were made for relationship.
Religion is made up by man. Throughout time, man has thought of ways to make themselves feel holy. Inwardly there is this sense that we were made for so much more – we were made to worship – but not things lacking worth. We were made to worship One so much greater than we are, and this One sacrificed His own life – did you grasp the gravity of this statement? – God died for each one of us.
His death is not a small sacrifice. It is lavish love for a people He died to save. He longed to have us in fellowship with Him. Wow. An infinite, perfect being longs to demonstrate His love to a finite, sinful people? I am undone. We are not worthy of such love, yet who would not receive this kind of love? What impedes our relationship with God?
Deception by sin. We are deceived by our own flesh and by the enemy of our souls by sin. Sin in and of itself is deceptive. It blinds us to see the reality of what sin is doing to us and that sin separates us from a Holy God. We are tantalized by the empty promises sin offers – pleasure, independence.
Pride. We want to “do it our way” like the Frank Sinatra song boasts. Accountability does not fit into that plan if it requires submitting ourself to another. It takes the grace of God to reveal that our pride is blocking us from relationship with God. The Almighty God chose to reveal Himself in humility. It is in humbling ourselves that we can find God, too.
Hardship. Since man is often on the throne of his own altar, we tend to have an entitlement point-of-view, thinking God owes us a perfect life. When life hurts, the first one blamed is often God. What kind of a God would claim to want a relationship with His people, only to allow them to suffer? Pain causes us to distrust His faithfulness. Well, at least, shallow faith
There are a myriad of other reasons man doesn’t accept the free gift of salvation, but ultimately the root is typically pride, sin or hardship. We want what we want and if a relationship with God doesn’t look like what we think it should, well . . . enter religion. False religions make promises and man thinks he can have his cake and eat it, too. But we don’t realize that living a life of sin is not “having our cake”. It is death. God wants to free us from that death. Who wouldn’t want that?
This passage from Psalm 40 that I read this morning is such an example of what it means to be in a relationship with God.
The Psalmist shows us that a relationship with God means we rely on Him. Not to do what we command (far be it from us), but for strength and grace to live this life. Notice that the Psalmist was in a place of suffering when his relationship with God deepened. He did not have a perfect life – quite the opposite, actually.
What about when God does not heal? Can we still love a God like that? When we consider that we fall so short of His righteous laws and He chose suffering to communicate His love for us, maybe we, too, can lay down our plans for what we thought would be a perfect life and embrace the best relationship we will ever encounter. Perhaps our perfect life would have kept us in a shallow relationship with God, if we had one at all.
The Psalmist was humble and recognized his sin – humility showed him his need of his God. And His great God delivered Him. He was aware of His weaknesses and unworthiness, but instead of trying to manufacture his own acceptance before God, He clung to God because He saw only God could meet His need.
Genuine Worship of a God He Knew
Out of this beautiful relationship, the Psalmist offered genuine praise to God. He could not contain it! It was not a religious ceremony – he declared God’s worth and deeds to all who would listen. His declarations were not void of relationship – he spoke from experience He had with His LORD Who had met him at a place of need and healed him – spiritually.
The fruit of this relationship he had with his Maker was beautiful. He recognized that a relationship with God was not offering pointless sacrifices. He wanted to please God and was obsessed with His God, whose Word dominated his thoughts. Sounds like love to me. And He could not stop talking about God’s loyal love and faithfulness. Sounds like a relationship worth seeking above all else.
Sometimes we complicate things down here. How about you? Do you bubble over when you think about God, or does your relationship with Him need some healing? When we confess our sins and seek Him with a pure heart, He will draw near to us and deliver us from our waywardness. He made us to know Him. Come. The Lover of our souls is waiting for you.
Lord, thank You that You want to know us! Fallen, yet forgiven. I love you, LORD! May I never tire of proclaiming Your awesome worth! You are faithful and true!
I know it can blow our mind that God exists in three persons. How do we know Him? He has always been – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I think we try to understand God on our level. But surely a God on our level would not be worthy of worship? Skeptical? I understand. Maybe some of the articles below can help to bring clarity as to Who this great God is Who wants to know you.
Article on doctrine of Trinity: http://www.christianity.com/god/trinity/god-in-three-persons-a-doctrine-we-barely-understand-11634405.html