Posts Tagged ‘relationship with god’

trustJesus was asked this very question by a Pharisee who was considered to be “an expert in the law” (Matthew 22:34–36). Jesus answered by saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37–40).

Jesus gives us two commandments that summarize all the laws and commands in Scripture. The Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 deal with our relationship with God and then our relationship with other people. One naturally flows out of the other. Without a right relationship with God, our relationships with others will not be right, either. The cause of the world’s problems is that man needs to be reconciled to God. We will never love our neighbor as ourselves if we do not first love God with all our heart, mind, and soul. All of man’s best efforts toward world peace will fail as long as men are living in rebellion against God.

When asked by another Pharisee how one could “inherit eternal life,” Jesus answered that it is by keeping these two commandments (Luke 10:25–37). Only two commandments to obey, yet how often do we, like this Pharisee, try to “justify” ourselves because saying we obey these commandments is much easier than really living according to them.

When carefully considered, Jesus’ answer was really a perfect response not only to the Pharisee of His day, but also to all modern-day “Pharisees” who try measure a person’s righteousness by how well he conforms outwardly to a series of laws or commandments. Both the Pharisees of Christ’s day and today’s many versions create a whole system of rules and regulations for people to live by and yet are guilty of breaking the most important commandments of all because they “cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but not the inside” (Matthew 23:25–26).

When we prayerfully consider Jesus’ words and the fact that all the laws and commands in Scripture can really be summarized by these two commandments, we understand just how impossible it is for us to keep God’s commandments and how often we fail to do so and can therefore never be righteous before God on our own accord. That only leaves us with one hope, and that is that God “justifies the ungodly” (Romans 4:5). God’s law and our failure to keep it “brings about wrath” (Romans 4:15), but “God demonstrates His own love toward us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

While we will never keep God’s commandments or be righteous before Him by our own efforts, Christ did. It is His sacrificial death on the cross that causes our sins to be imputed to Him and His righteousness imputed to us (Romans 4—5). That is why “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9–10). After all, the gospel of Christ “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes,” for “the just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16–17).

Because Jesus answered this very question and His answer is recorded in Scripture, we don’t have to wonder or search for the answer ourselves. The only question left for us to answer is do we live according to these commandments? Do we truly love God with all our hearts, all our souls, and all our minds, and do we really love our neighbor as ourselves? If we are truthful with ourselves, we know that we do not, but the good news is that the law and commandments were given as “a tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). Only as we realize our sinfulness and hopelessness will we turn to Christ alone as the only hope of salvation.

As Christians, we strive to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and as our hearts and minds are transformed by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit we are able to begin to love others as ourselves. Yet we still fail to do so, which again drives us back to the cross of Christ and the hope of salvation that stems from the imputed righteousness of Christ and not from any merit of our own.

One of the biggest things that keeps people from fulfilling their destiny is what they THINK they can or can’t accomplish.

It’s dangerous to rely on your own strength to bring about change in your life, and pursue your destiny. God needs to be the source of your strength. Yet you need to balance that with taking focused action, being proactive, and moving forward, or you run the risk of getting bogged down and staying stuck.

How do you decide what to focus on at any given time?

There may be periods in your life when God is teaching you lessons to help you grow in spiritual maturity. In those seasons it might seem as though there is a hold up when in reality God is training and maturing you!

You need to learn to recognize those times so that you can work WITH God rather than striving to accomplish something before its appointed time.

There will also be times when God is testing you and wants you to press on and move forward.

And there will be times when you ARE on target but the enemy is opposing you and trying to hold you back from pursuing the next steps. So being able to discern what is happening with timing is crucial.

I hope you know that racing ahead trying to get whatever you want and assuming it is God’s will for your life is unwise and likely to result in great disappointment. Your destiny will unfold over time, and it will happen in God’s timing.

Getting it right isn’t always easy! Trying to rush ahead and make things happen NOW will result in frustration and discontent, YET you need to be sure that you ARE doing your bit by actively pursuing your destiny.

I meet a lot of people who are afraid to move forward because they don’t want to make a mistake or do things outside of God’s timing, so they end up doing NOTHING.

If you ARE afraid to move forward it could be lack of faith, fear of failure, unbelief, or an array of limiting beliefs that are holding you back, or immobilising you by leading you to believe that may be you haven’t really heard God, or you’ve made a mistake, or it isn’t God’s timing.

Dealing with those negative thinking patterns involves work. It’s like training for a sport or learning to play an instrument. You can’t reasonably expect to do it well if you’ve only had a few lessons. To become good at it you need training and lots of practice until it became natural.

Think for a minute about something you want to accomplish or have in your life. Maybe you want a promotion, need a new car, want to train to be a counsellor or coach, feel led to attend a ministry training school, or write a book, or … fill in the blank.

Whatever it is, decide on ONE thing then follow the steps below.

Pray about your ONE THING every day for a month. Ask the Lord what He wants to say to you about it, be sure to listen for His answers, write down what you hear, and put it somewhere you will see it.

Steps to Doing Things God’s Way and in His Timing

  1. Develop your relationship with God through Jesus and regularly spend time with Him in prayer and study. It will be out of your relationship with God that your prayers will be answered.

    Learn to recognize God’s voice when He is speaking to you.

  2. Ask the Lord to show you whether what you are asking for is something that HE wants you to have or do. Ask for wisdom and for His timing.
  3. Once you know that what you want is within God’s will for your life, ask God to show you the way forward, have faith and believe that God will answer you one way or another, He WILL answer your prayers.
  4. Pray and ask God for the things that you want and need. Be sure to watch for answered prayer and keep a record to strengthen your faith.
  5. Be prepared for His answer to come in a variety of ways. God’s answers to your prayers may look different than you expect.

I hope you find this helpful.


“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” Philippians 4:6

imagesNot to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.—Psalm 115:1

“It’s not about you”—that’s how Rick Warren begins his best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. That’s what Psalm 115 means when it says, “Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory.” Make sure God comes first in your life.

It sounds simple, but it really is very hard, especially in these, “Its all about me age.”.

We know it’s not about us and we want to put God first, but there are so many pressing needs and problems to deal with that before we even realize it, life becomes all about us. We know we have to put first things first when we pray, but often without thinking we put our own needs and our own wants first anyway. And sometimes we worry more about what people think of us than what God thinks of us.

It takes a right relationship with God to truly say, “Not to us, LORD, not to us.” The more we get to know him and the closer we grow to him, the easier it will become to be able to put God first. We have to recognize who God is and what he has done for us to help us redirect our priorities.

Reaching that point does not happen overnight. It’s a life-long process. We need to learn to pray as our Lord Jesus prayed when he said, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

loadAfter hearing some famous pastors lately, reading contemporary Christians authors, viewing popular Christian Facebook Fan Pages, and attending some new churches for informational purposes, I have seen one common thread in a lot of contemporary teaching: the messages are not insightful or challenging, and often feel watered down intellectually or theologically to the point where they are “acceptable” or popular, but they do little to bring people to spiritual maturity

I do not mean this in a negative way, but I am making this observation based on years of knowing Christians friends who do not have relationships with God that are truly life-changing and vibrant, which leads them to struggle with crippling emotional issues, latch on to crutches of all types rather than trust God, and pursue him as if he is an after-thought rather the primary focus of their lives

Jesus died so that we could have freedom, not live as those crushed under the weight of the world and our own sin

Part of being a light unto the world means Christians should be living examples of freedom, not living as contradictions, bound in slavery

Galatians 5:1
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery

2 Peter 2:19
…for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
You are not your own; you were bought at a price

In no way am I critical of other people’s relationships, but the result of not having an intimate, mature connection to God is that even though people go to church, read the Bible, listen to praise music, and do their best to be “good”, they have not come to a place where their relationship with God changes them to the point where they are healed emotionally, become spiritually mature, and start producing a righteous crop as Jesus intended, but most importantly, they do not enter into an intimate relationship with God on a personal level

Doing “all the stuff” does not make us close to God, it just makes us religious

I do not say this to condemn anyone as we are all on a journey towards greater righteousness and wisdom, but after looking at a large number of popular teachings, music, theology, blogs, Fan Pages, etc…, it is easy to see that Christians are not being fed messages of deep wisdom that reveal intimate parts of God’s character and righteousness

By making messages “seeker friendly” and geared towards the masses, this often results in causing them to be watered down, resulting in a “feel good” faith that does not accurately reflect God’s personality and character in key areas (especially on resisting sin and gaining godly wisdom), and usually focuses on “Christian cheerleader” type messages that pump people up but do not leave them with long-term wisdom or growth

Here are some examples:

“Like this if you think Jesus is awesome!”

“Like this picture of a puppy if you think God’s Little Helpers are adorable!”

“You will go to heaven no matter what you do, yay!”

Aside from being generally pointless, and often alienating to our friends when they appear in our news feeds, these teachings and snippets tend to anchor themselves in the promotion of God’s promises and blessings rather than revealing his actual character, and they rarely discuss the conditions necessary to actually receive the blessings they promote

Most of all, these messages do not help people achieve intimacy or spiritual strength–this means people focus on what they want, rather than being taught, let alone follow, the steps it takes to have a life-altering relationship with God

I mean honestly, I do not remember anyone’s life changing because they read puppies were cute, and people typically do not stop themselves from sinning when they think there are no consequences and instant forgiveness waiting for them regardless of whatever choice they make

Sin hurts God’s feelings tremendously, but if people are stuck in the place of “God will always forgive me no matter what I do”, it will be very difficult for them to suddenly understand they are hurting God and pushing him away through sin, because they will be constantly focused on their own guilt (the enemy loves playing people like yo-yos with their own guilt and shame)

Isaiah 59:2
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear

I will not argue that a “bright outlook” message here and there has its place, but this type of “promises first” approach to faith ends up, intentionally or not, “baiting” people into becoming Christians. In these cases, it is very difficult for people to mature past wanting God’s promises and blessings, which leads their prayers and relationship to be about what they want from God, not about drawing near out of love and a genuine desire to know him intimately

Ecclesiastes 5:1
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice offools, who do not know that they do wrong

Another aspect of this, is that some people try to make their teachings and messages accessible to the largest possible audiences

For example, people teach that salvation is for everyone who says “Jesus is Lord” and believes he exists, and that they will go to heaven regardless of how they live their lives


If this were true, Jesus would be a liar

So would Paul, Peter, etc…

Read the verses below and judge for yourself whether these are messages spoken by shepherds who are eager to please their congregation by sharing a message of “you get into heaven no matter what happens, yay!”

Matthew 7:21-23
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. any will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

(Note that Jesus is not talking about “fake” Christians who just act religious, he is talking about people who have gifts of prophecy, can drive out demons, and also perform miracles–this means they have a relationship with God and did great things, but it did not mean they were guaranteed a place in heaven as a result!)

1 Peter 4:18
If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?

Hebrews 10:26-27
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God

To be fair, even though some people distort the word of God for their own benefit, others mean well, but since they are not mature themselves, they still lead people astray with inaccurate teachings all the same

2 Timothy 4:3
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear

Luke 6:39-40
Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher

Hosea 4:6
…my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge

The last verse is especially important, as if people’s faith is based on “feel good” promises, it will do little to carry them through difficult times–making them easy targets for the enemy to take down through trials or temptation

Guidance on developing an intimate relationship with God involves the “standard” encouragement to study the Bible and live righteously, but it also means eating food meant for the mature, and evolving past “seeker friendly” messages that do not line up with God’s Word–no matter how uncomfortable they sound at first

Rather than react to things we do not like with statements like “that’s not *my* Jesus!” and get offended because something sounds “outrageous”, we should have an ear to hear, and make sure our points of view are grounded in scripture, not just our personal preferences for who we want God to be

To get close to God in terms of spiritual maturity and wisdom, I have found no replacement for studying the Bible eagerly as it reveals so much about God’s character and personality–the perfect love we should be modeling ourselves after!

And of course, living righteously is key

Hebrews 5:14
But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil

1 Corinthians 2:6
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing

2 Timothy 2:15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth

Isaiah 66:2
This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word