Relationship vs. Legalism

Summary: God desires to be in relationship with us and not legalistic practices. In fact, as we submit to God’s will an interesting thing happens, God wants to know our heart on issues of the world!

There are many Christians living under living under the slavery of legalism. How does this look? A person’s prayer life can be a good indicator. If a person says the same prayer to God day and after day, it doesn’t sound like much of a relationship to me.

If a friend came to you and said the same thing time after time, at some point wouldn’t you already know what your friend is going to say to you before he speaks?

Now I use to be bound by this legalistic prayer routine. I could only imagine God saying, “Marc, I have heard that prayer, lets talk about something different.”

Editor’s note: If saying the same prayer to God enhances the relationship, go for it. Remember we each have our own personal relationship with Jesus. Allow Holy Spirit to lead you what works for you.

There is another area of life, where many Christians are bound by legalism. How many times have you heard a Christian say, “Not my will be done, but Your will be done God”.

Again, this in itself is not a bad prayer. But imagine two friends, where one friend always has his way and the other always had to submit to the other.

Wouldn’t you feel like a slave and not a friend?

God has called us friends of God, not slaves.

The key is that as we fully submit to God’s desires, He wants to know what is on our hearts. It’s about a relationship.

This is emphasized in the Bible with Jacob. Genesis 32:28 says, He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”

Notice that God did not belittle Jacob for wrestling with Him, he actually enjoyed the wrestling! Why? Because it was rooted in a relationship.

In my own life, I have wrestled with God. I have a Bible, that has no cover and back, tattered pages, and a few burnt ones in my own wrestling with God if all that the Bible says is true. And I love it! It shows my authentic relationship and with God!

Interesting note, the few burnt pages are in Genesis where it talks about Jacob!

God is longing for His people to be in a real relationship with Him and bound by legalism!


Prayer: Father, I pray that Your Holy Spirit leads us all into what it means to be in a real relationship with You! I am grateful for all you are doing in every reader’s life and pray for a spirit of revelation of what it means to be in relationship with you! I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.

Application and Comments: As you fully submit to God’s desires first, what is one thing on your heart that you would like to see change? God is interested! Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” So come boldly to the throne of grace!

Jesus and Marc’s Trip to Bethel

*A trip like this requires a longer post!

Back in late January, the idea of going out to Bethel began to surface on an unconscious level.

Then in April, when going through a workshop of “The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind” by Bill Johnson the desire to go began to surface. There were two things that really stood out.

Before the workshop started, I was walking down the streets near where the workshop was being held.  Tucked away in the curb was a fresh $20 bill. It just so happened the books also cost $20 as well!

Also, one week during the workshop, my stomach began to churn in a very unusual way, but didn’t make a connection of what was going on.

I finished the workshop and was very sad when the class ended. I felt fear of backsliding at the time and that seemed to be happening.

Then a few weeks ago, I was meeting with some friends and Bethel got brought up and again things began to churn on the inside. The next day I decided to act somehow, so I began filling out the application for the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. Almost immediately, there was such a deep spiritual hunger pain that came up.

And that was the tipping point, I knew I wanted to check out Bethel and see what was up. I made a decision if I was going to go I would be all in. Forget the plans I had and dive in.

The trip itself was full of highs and lows, but overall left very encouraged that God was up to something fantastic in my life.

I purchased a one way train ticket with no intention of coming back until I got the answers I was seeking.

So early Wednesday morning, I left via Megabus from Cincinnati to Chicago for the train ride. Armed with my small red backpack with the Bible, a few books, few sets of clothes and toiletries I was off!

While in Chicago, I began second guessing myself, because I did have a nice weekend getaway planned with friends and missed the first train.

As a sat in the train station, I did not like the idea of coming out and going home. I was hearing “miracles” from God if I went. I sure liked that!

So I got on the next train that left soon after the first train.  This was my first train ride outside of the Kings Island amusement park train ride and this was going across the country! I was so excited!

The trip itself went through Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and got into Los Angeles. Later, I took a bus and another train ride up to Redding, CA where Bethel Church is.

And on the train ride the miracles began to flow. I was fascinated by the many different types of people on the trip. The conversations were super encouraging.

Now I really didn’t have a lot of funds when I left so I was curious as to how God would provide. In one day God sent three people to provide food for me without me describing the situation. One a sandwich, another an afternoon snack, but the cream of the crop was a steak dinner!

The train has a dining room cart and I wanted to eat there at least once. I felt God saying go in and order what I wanted so naturally I ordered a steak dinner. There was a mother and son sitting across the booth from me, but then another man that came and sat down. He said he was blessed by God and wanted to pay for everyone’s dinner at our booth! I was amazed at the goodness of God through His people!

I was also amazed at the beauty of the trip. It was amazing to be in New Mexico and the train itself would be in a desert, but to look out and see snow capped mountains! How is that possible?! The beauty of God is amazing.

We got to Los Angeles and had some time to walk around. I was saddened by the amount of homelessness in the area. There was a row where there were tents set up and inside were many homeless people.

On the bus and train ride to Redding, CA, I had an opportunity to sit next to a sweet lady. We struck up a conversation and the rest of the time it felt like a mini-date! But alas, when it came to eating, she offered to pay for the food!

Finally, Saturday morning, the train rolled into Redding, CA.

After arriving to Redding, I began asking people how to get to Bethel. It ended up being  about a 5 mile walk. I went up there and there was an event going on. The presence of God was very thick around me during the trip and this was no exception. I struck up conversations with people and had a nice afternoon. Later I went to stay with a friend of a friend for the night.

When I woke up on Sunday, I decided to go to all four services on Sunday! What a treat! Bethel has an amazing worship team.  The worship by everyone is so contagious.

During the worship, my mind began to race, and I felt God say, “Do not worry”, “Seek Me” “Seek my face”. It helped to center myself and I began to experience “the peace that surpasses all comprehension (Philippians 4:7).

All my worries about how I was getting home, my future and all the cares of the world faded away (Matthew 6:25-34). A truly magnificent time in the Presence of God.

There were many times throughout the trip where the Holy Spirit was comforting me, but this was the time that stood out the most.

The next day, I woke up disappointed not thinking I received the answers I was looking for. But as I write this, I feel like God did answer questions that I was seeking whether it was a relationship question, work or finances.

On Tuesday, I left for Cincinnati and God was teaching me so much during the trip. It was overwhelming at times. There were many delays, almost stranded in Los Angeles, but whenever the temptation to get angry, my mind changed and said, “No, I am going to praise God in the midst of this 3 hour delay, this 4 hour delay and this 5 hour delay!

By the end of the trip, I felt that there were 8 people that offered food to me without saying anything! One couple was in California and God brought us together again later in Dallas on separate busses! Again, Praise God for those people who were obedient to His voice and thank you to all of you! 

After about three in a half days, I made it home and was ready for bed.

As I laid in bed, I felt like I had truly fallen in love with God for the first time in a long time. I was like God, I do not even want that financial blessing, that work breakthrough or that relationship. Have it all.

But deep down inside, I was feeling God saying, “Perfect, I want you to have all these things. I just wanted you first.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

And to add to the humor of God I came back with $3 and change in the bank account. Now this is personal to me because it was this time 2 years ago where my bank account had $3 and change and a large check came in the mail to help out.

God I have seen you move in my life in fascinating ways in my life in relationships, work and financial blessing and I know you will do it again and again and again because it who you are.

You are a Good, Good Father. It’s just who you are!

Glory to God for this amazing roller coaster trip!

My encouragement and prayer to anyone who wants to do something that feels reckless is this. Do not worry about what others think about you. Do not make excuses of why you cannot do it. Focus on the nature of God. Find a few trusted friends that will give you wise counsel.

Be who God created you to be! He wants you free. And there is an incredible of amount His Grace when pursuing God with your whole heart.

After all, He is a rewarder of those who seek after Him (Hebrews 11:6).

God Bless you all!

 

The Marathon Race with God

Any person whoever has ever ran a marathon race (26.2 miles), knows it is not wise to start off training 20 miles.  Why? Because you will probably burn out quickly and not have consistency with your training. You start training off slowly and build endurance (Colossians 1:11)

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,

Our walk with God is no different.

Speaking from personal experience, I have tried many different spiritual disciplines, but without consistency! It leads to a life that is not rooted.

Recently, God has led me to reading 3 chapters of the Word a day and praying 3 times a day in tongues about 3 minutes each.

And it’s been wonderful! It’s like eating three meals a day (And maybe a late afternoon snack as well!). There is a natural hunger for more! (Psalms 119:103)

“How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

Nom! Nom! Nom!

I continue to see the benefits. I am hearing the voice of God better. I am also discerning what is not the voice of God. It is helping me continue in making wise decisions. Often there are decisions in life where there is not a right or wrong choice, but there is a “best” choice.

It is also helping me let go of encumbrances that lead to sin (Hebrews 12:1).

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

For example, I felt like I could was not able to exercise self-control on the smart phone, so I felt God say to switch to a flip phone for now. Do I believe this is permanent? No, but it is helping me realize that even a smart phone can get in the way with our race with God and relationships with others.

I look forward to partnering with the Holy Spirit in adding back the spiritual disciplines I have already practiced in a balanced way.

Prayer: Father, I pray for discipline in all of our lives. And Holy Spirit, I pray you teach us how to use discpline in our everyday lives. Help us to recognize this is a long race we are in and that we are in it for the long haul. No matter the cost. I ask all this in Jesus name. Amen.

Submitting to Authority

Excited to start blogging again. There has been so much victory in my life that I feel the Lord wanting me to share to inspire others! And it encourages me!

This week has been an amazing week. The Lord has been challenging me to submit to His authority and other people that have roles of authority. In the past, it was a struggle to submit because of trust issues (More on that in next post). Now I am learning the joy of submitting to authority “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17 NASB)

Who knew submitting could be so fun! It is not always easy to, but I am learning to see the benefits of it. What a turn of events! I would like to thank my parents, friends and, Open Heaven Ministries for helping me to begin the joyful process of submitting to authority.

I look forward to sharing more and more stories of victory in Jesus! Be blessed all you sons and daughters of God!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray you partner with me in this blog to advance the Kingdom of God and that it inspires people to step out of their circumstances and to follow you with all that they have. Holy Spirit I ask you drive what is said deep into people’s hearts about what you want them to hear. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

 

The Joy of God’s Discipline

The word discipline has a negative connotation to it similar to. It implies that someone did something wrong and corrective action must be applied. It is almost sounds like punishment. There is significant difference between the two.  Discipline is a tool of God’s love for His Children.

Proverbs 3:11-12 says, “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”

Yesterday, I talked about how God is a jealous God after your heart.  You can be sure God will remove those obstacles that keep God from going after your heart.

Here is a practical example from my life.  Sometimes I can have the tendency to be on the internet too much.  I can remember a few weeks ago, the internet went out for a few days and I took a different approach to the situation.  This time I viewed it as coming FROM God.  He wanted me to spend more time with Him. It wasn’t a punishment where I felt the wrath of God for doing something wrong.

Rather, I viewed it as a sign of God’s discipline and love. It was a perspective changed. God loved me so much that He needed to provide a wake up call.

Hebrews 12:11 goes as far as saying, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it,”

So the lesson in God’s discipline is that it is a sign of God’s love for us.  We should take great joy when we are being disciplined by Holy God because it is shaping us into the Godly men and women that we were destined to be.