Monthly Archives: July 2009

OMG and Relationship With God

How do we know we have fellowship with God? When do we know we are okay with him and not off on the sidelines somehere?  When can we be sure and more sure of God’s active power and glory in our lives?

Everyone wants a relationship with God. He is real, he is the creator, and he made us in his image so that whether we admit it or not, we want to know him.  You have heard the expression, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”  If you will look around you and listen, you will always hear people who never give God any credit saying, “Oh, God!” as the first thing out of their mouths when trouble strikes. Maybe you are one of those people.

Do you flippantly write and text “OMG” all over the place? Do you know that God hears that and takes it with its full meaning, that you are either calling him or blaspheming him? God is real, and he knows even how many hairs are on your head. Think of this: suppose your name is John. Suddenly there is a whole culture of people using your name as an expletive or slang expression. You can hear each one, everytime it happens. Millions of people saying or texting, “Oh My John” millions of times a day. Yet they aren’t paying any attention to YOU, the person they are using to express whatever it is they are expressing. You can’t really help them, and most of the time, it’s meaningless anyway. Yet you keep hearing it and hearing it and hearing it. Do you have a relationship with these people? No.

Now think how God feels. He wants a relationship with everyone. He wants to be a loving Father to each and every person on the planet.  His name comes up continuously, yet he is not given any opportunity to respond.

Praise God, he can also read our hearts, and not just our text messages. He can pour his own Spirit into our hearts and help us and comfort us and draw us into relationship with him.

I John 1:6-7 says that we are lying if we say we have a relationship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness. Think of this: anyone who is expressing an opinion and says “OMG” is claiming a relationship with God. Otherwise, how could you say God shares your opinion? Yet God says that when you keep going in spiritual darkness, you are lying about that relationship.

Most people who go on in spiritual darkness do so because they think God will make them stop doing some of the things they like to do. Well, that is true. However, God also shows you a better way, and then those things you thought were so important no longer matter.

Doing things that hurt your body, or hurt other people, or are just plain immoral or selfish (and don’t say it’s relative, because in your heart you know better) are things that keep you in spiritual darkness. Your Father God wants to deliver you from darkness and give you a path of light to walk in. God never lies, so you can always have fellowship with him in that manner. I John 1:7, those who are truly lving in the light of God’s presence also have fellowship with each other. Ahhh. So there we find we can have true relationships with other people, too.

How do we get into relationship with God? Through Jesus Christ his Son.

For God SO LOVED THE WORLD that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes in him will not die but have everlasting life. By agreeing with God and confessing out loud that you have been walking in darkness and that Jesus came to die for you as a sacrifice for your sin, you enter into a right and perfect relationship with God. You can call on him in truth. He loves you and will always hear you, and when your body wears out and dies, he takes you to heaven to always be with him.

Jesus says, “I AM the way, the truth and the life . . . . no one comes to the Father by through Me.”

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Grief and God

Every person experiences  separation from a loved one by circumstances, trouble, or death. It is going to happen to you if it hasn’t happened. When the pain of loss strikes, we react. It is what we do, and we cannot avoid the trauma of grief.

Grieving can be constructive or destructive. The first time it happens, most of us don’t fully understand how we are being affected. We say and do things we would not normally do, and we are unaware of the difference. At some later date, we look back and realize we were not in touch with the real world during that initial time of grief. If we have stuffed our pain deep inside somewhere to keep up appearances as normal, we are only fooling ourselves.  It will not go away by itself.

The purpose of pain is not from God. It is a result of sin in the world, and because we are born into the corrupt world, we cannot avoid grief and pain.

However, God certainly can use our trouble to our advantage. First of all, he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to be the sacrifice to pay for the sin debt loaded upon us. Sin leads to death, always, but by accepting Jesus as the One who paid that debt for us, we are totally saved from paying ourselves, and we go to be with God when we die instead of being eternally separated from him. Sin separates us from God, so God uses pain and trouble and grief to show us the results of sin and bring us to himself and save us.

God never wastes anything.

When grieving goes on and on, we become radically different from the persons we were before the loss that causes the grief. There are times when grief has become a habit and a comfort zone. We can’t move forward until we are willing to risk letting go of the grief. Sometimes grief paralyzes us; we go on as usual, but numb in our souls, and eventually, months or years later,  it has to come out. Many undiagnosed illnesses are probably a result of grief paralysis. These are examples of what may happen, but for sure, a grieving person’s character changes over time.

We can choose to let God make changes. People say “time heals” but that isn’t actually true. It is God who heals. As we pass through our life, we learn and grow and do new things, and God uses these new experinces to help us heal up.  He brings out his purpose of conforming us to Christ when we let him handle our grief instead of stowing it away as a personal possession or tyring to ignore it.

God is in the resurrection business. In John chapter 11, you can read the account of Lazarus’ death and how Jesus came to his tomb and raised him from the dead. Jesus did not come when first called when Lazarus was sick, so Lazarus died. Jesus remained away because he had a reason – to raise Lazarus from death and everyone saw God’s glory. In the time between the death and Jesus’ arrival, Lazarus’ sister Mary got herself in to a state and railed at Jesus when he did get there: “If you had been here, my brother would not have died!” Jesus did not get angry with her for that. He groaned in spirit and wept with her. Then he set about changing the situation. In this case, he called Lazarus back to life. In your case, if you have been grieving too long and cannot get out, he will restore you to life.

So much more could be said about how God handles grief. The only thing we need to remember , though, is to give it to him to handle! Man’s methods are partial and destructive, while God’s methods are always complete and constructive. Here is a prayer to get you started, please say it out loud:

Father, I ask you to take this burden of suffering I have been carrying. It belongs to you now and I never want to carry it again. If I try to pick it up again, please remind me that it is yours, not mine. I understand that Jesus paid for all that I carry on the cross and that is why it is yours and not mine. I ask for your peace that passes all understanding now to be rooted and grounded in me. Thank you for your love and compassion and mercy. In Jesus’ Name.

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Shout With Joy!

For anyone who attended a Sunday School as a child,  you probably memorized Psalm 100:1-2; “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.”  Your teacher explained that this meant worshiping God singing out loud cheerfully. Then you went upstairs out of your damp basement classroom and whispered to each other during the church service about so-and-so singing off key, and was that “making a joyful noise,” then giggle, giggle, giggle. Somebody glared at you for making noise in church, so you became quiet. Now you were wondering how anyone could make a joyful noise to worship God when you had to be quiet in church!

Another word for “serve” in verse 2 of the Psalm is “worship.” When we worship Almighty God, we are serving him. This is not to be a secret.  Verse 3 says “Know ye that the LORD, he is God, ” which means everyone knows that God is your LORD, because you aren’t quiet about it. You acknowledge him with your glad worship.

When you are glad, do you keep quiet about it? Doesn’t even your face show that you are full of joy and gladness? Your personal joy in the LORD is a very, very important component in leading others to know him, too. They will not be afraid to come to a God who so obviously makes people glad.

The rest of Psalm 100 gives reasons why we are so joyful in our worship:  1) God made us, and we didn’t make ourselves. 2) We are his people and the sheep of his pasture, i.e., he takes responsibility for us in every way. 3) God is good. 4) God’s mercy and truth last forever.

As you meet with God alone this morning, or go with others to praise and worship him, enter in to worship with thanking the LORD your God for everything, and praise him, blessing his name.  Let the joy of the LORD shine in your voice and on your face, and you will see the glory of the LORD rise upon you.

Don’t “feel” glad, or don’t “feel” in the mood for praise and worship to God? Well, read Psalm 100 for yourself and you will realize that if you just do these things from obedience, whether you feel it or not, you will be serving the living God in the way he wants you to. And he will honor your gift to him by bringing your emotions in line with your spirit. God bless you today as you worship him.

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Emotional Lions In Your Den

There is a story in the Bible of Daniel, prophet of Israel in the courts of King Nebuchudnezzar in Babylon. Daniel has the king’s favor, and has a high position of authority despite being a slave. Daniel’s enemies trick the king into making a law to exclude Daniel. When a decree goes out that the king must be worhsiped, Daniel, who worships God alone, cannot do this, so he is thrown into a den of lions to be killed.  God causes the lions’ mouths to be shut and they do nothing to Daniel. After spending the night with the lions, Daniel is removed and the king causes his enemies and their families to be thrown into the den instead.

We know that Daniel trusted God completely, no matter what the outcome. He would still have been trusting God if the lions had attacked and eaten his body. Daniel knew God, and knew that he had God’s favor, so even if he died, he would still be with God.

Think for a moment about what Daniel might have felt about his situation. It isn’t likely he just calmly, without emotion, walked calmly through these circumstances. What would you feel? Some suggestions of emotional reactions are terror, panic, anger, confusion, even sickness.  The thing to remember is that no matter what he was feeling, Daniel still trusted God. You can review his life prior to that event, and see that trusting God was a habit and practice of Daniel’s. He chose to follow God and did not allow anyone or anything to alter his choice. It is very clear that God greatly honored Daniel throughout his life for his steadfastness.

God is supremely faithful. When we choose Him, He will move heaven and earth to keep us in the center of His will.  God is all-wise, all-knowing, and all-powerful. He knows we cannot do anything His way, which is perfect, without His help, so He sent Jesus Christ to pay for the sin in us that prevents us from doing things His way. Then when we accept the sacrifice of Jesus as our payment for sin, God places His own Spirit in us so that we have His power and desire to do right.

Being overcome by emotion, such as fear or anger, is not a sin. God made us in His image, and He is very emotional. When we hold on to the emotion instead of holding on to God, then that emotion has taken His place in our circumstances, and then we are sinning, because the emotion is replacing God in us.

We can trust God to save us from our emotions so that we can see His will clearly and remain on track. Daniel surrendered himself to God, and God shut the lions mouths so that Daniel was not killed. Also consider that when Daniel appealed to God and the lions mouths were shut, Daniel no longer had any reason to be afraid of what he was experiencing.

When you are confronted by some circumstance, such as trouble at work, false witnesses, sickness, etc., submit to God and He will lift you up. You may spend a night in the lions’ den, but you will always, always be rescued when you trust God. The rescue will bring to bear the mind of Christ is you, and if the circumstance must continue, you will be able to endure it.

Reject letting emotions be in control; choose to trust God.

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