Years ago, the GI Joe cartoon had a slogan, “Knowing is half the battle.” That slogan is true for believers as well. How do you know or view God determines your level of trust.
And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. (Psalms 9:10)
If you know God as one who is quickly angered at you and ready to judge, then you will have a difficult time trusting him. However, if you have experienced God’s faithfulness and see him as a loving father full of mercy, then you will wholeheartedly cling to him in times of trouble.
The secret to the Christian life is not trying harder or laboring to mustarding up faith, but instead to get closer to him. Just as you and I can trust true friends but shy away from trusting strangers, we will more comfortably trust God as we move from a practically stranger relationship to one as a son resting in the bosom of his father.
Have you discovered the most important things in life? Years ago, I thought it was possessions and experiences. Boy was I ever wrong. You have heard the phrase, you never know how much you need something until you don’t have it. Well it is true. If you have buried a loved one, you experienced it. They are gone and your heart longs to see them again. Through that and other experiences in life, we can learn that the most important things in life are people and our interactive relationship with them.
Because we are created in the image of God, we are very similar to him. He likewise desires a relationship with us. He doesn’t need our money or any offerings that we choose to give him. He already owns everything. So there is nothing more on this earth that he could need. Understandably, he may need “no thing”, but he does need someone and that someone is you.
God wants to have a relationship with his creations and in that relationship, he wants us to give him something. He wants what is in our hearts.
Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. (Psalms 50:14-15)
He seeks for individuals who are thankful, yielded, who look to him in times of trouble and will glorify his name.
Israel fell into the cold ritualistic mannerisms of their religion and if we are not careful, we can do the same. So, as you assess your relationship with God, don’t count the “good” actions that you offer up to him, but instead focus on the motives behind them. Do they reflect being thankful, yielded, seeking and glorifying?
Have you ever been hurt by someone? I mean really hurt. Maybe you were used, abused, attacked or rejected. Has this ever happened to you? Chances are that everyone who reads this can answer yes to the question. How did you feel when this occurred? Did you feel hurt, anger, shame, disgust, confusion? You aren’t alone. The entire world knows how this feels. But even better than that, God knows how it feels. We did these same wrong things to God and brought some of those terrible emotions upon him as well. We can trust that God knows where we are and how we feel.
However in light of our terrible actions, God chose not to act with vengeance. Instead he chose to re-establish a relationship with each of us. He did not desire a God-slave relationship, but a love relationship. This relationship never would or could be established by man. If it was going to occur, it had to be started by God. Man was unable and unwilling to change, but God who is rich in love was willing to do whatever it would take for us to return to him. God needed to provide for man a way of salvation from his condition.
But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. (Psalms 130:4)
Fear of judgement could not bring about the desired change in man’s heart. That type of fear only creates a self righteous sinner who sees himself this way because of what he does right, but at the same time blindly fails to see the abounding sinfulness of his ways. What man needed was a love relationship. Forgiveness was God’s first step towards accomplishing and establishing that love relationship.
With that work being done, man’s heart would have a fear of disappointing the God that he loves. God accomplished this condition in man’s heart through forgiveness. His forgiveness did more than remove the guilt and penalty of sin. It brought about a relationship that would change man forever. Forgiveness from God brought the right kind of fear in man. Love sought the relationship and forgiveness accomplished it.
…the greatest of these is charity (love). 1 Corinthians 13:13
Yesterday in celebration of our nation’s birth, public and private fireworks were displayed. For most, it was a wonderful time of celebration ending with multiple oohs and aaahs. However for some it was not so pleasant.
Trauma never takes a holiday. While some were rejoicing, others were not. As some may know, my family rescued a German Shepherd with a laundry list of phobias. While aiding him through most of the night, I learned some distinct lessons about my relationship with God.
While trembling in terror, my family provided support and our presence to him. Calming words, hugs, and a makeshift place for him to hide provided the strength that he needed. When firecrackers, M80s and the neighborhood fireworks went off, we quickly responded with “It’s okay, Duke. Everything is okay.” When he responded positively, we lauded him with praise. This went on until at least midnight, with most of the overnight hours spent transitioning him back to functioning independently.
This morning, Duke came close to me. He gently licked me–which I really can’t stand–and snuggled his head into my chest. I patted him on the side and gently spoke about how brave he was and that he was a good boy. It was then that it hit me. As this dog bonds closets to me after times of trials, I too bond closest to God after the same. As I shared words of praise for his bravery, God does the same with me for my faith. What draws the dog closest to me are situations greater than he can bear. What draws me closest to God are not blessings, but situations greater that I can bear.
In the end, I learned that the best way for me to know God will not come from books, sermons or bible studies, but from trials and his presence in the midst of them.
I will be with him in trouble (Psalm 91:15b)
Christianity is not a code of beliefs, but a relationship with a person. The greatest experience that a person can have is this relationship with God. All other experiences will fade with time, but a relationship with God grows and never becomes old.
When we share our faith, we should not speak of the actions that we are to perform or the things from which we should abstain, but instead speak of the wonder of God and the person of his son, Jesus. We should not strive to conform people’s actions to line up to a standard of holiness, but instead strive to get them to desire a relationship with the person whose name is above all names.
That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3)
Maybe the reason we fail at successfully sharing our faith is because we have failed in our relationship with God. We cannot speak of how wonderful God is unless we experience his wonder. If we draw nigh to God, we will again experience him and when we experience him we will have something for which to testify. The closer our relationship is with God, the greater our testimony will be.
If you would like to read more of these thoughts in a hard copy format, my new book is now available at the link below.
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