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!

The Importance of Relationships

Today at church service, the teaching pastor, asked us what makes us feel the most vulnerable in life. Instantly, relationships came to my mind. Just typing this I feel my heart shake.

I do believe God is bringing me into having healthy relationships in my life and that is exciting and can be terrifying at the same time because relationships and I haven’t really been best friends for the 28 years I have lived.

Relationships have hurt me greatly in the past, and learning to trust God, self and others is a process. Let me say that again, learning to trust God, self and others is a process!

In a playful way I like to ask God,

Me: “Hey buddy, can we skip over this relationship business with other people? I like you more!”

God: “Sorry buddy, you need relationships with other people to help you grow and for you to help them grow.”

Deep down, I understand that.

The issue with the mentality of not needing other people leads to a life of isolation. There are times for us to be alone with God, but there are times we need another. Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)

So where to begin?

Part of the answer is taking baby steps, building friendships and learning to guard our hearts Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.(Proverbs 4:23)

A baby step can be finding a safe community setting to cultivate healthy relationships. Maybe that is going to a function outside of the Sunday service for someone.

Building a friendship means taking the time to get to know someone before to see if the person is someone you want to build a relationship with.

And guarding our heart is recognizing what is going on in our own hearts and not shutting down what we are feeling. Communication is key to guarding your heart. How can I share my heart with someone, if I am not willing to share what is going on the inside? Make sure to find safe, trustworthy people when sharing your heart.

More on relationships later.

Prayer: Father, I praise you for what you are doing in each and everyone of our lives. In Jesus name, I ask for healthy relationships for all of us to help us grow into the strong men and women of God that you designed us to be. Amen.

P.S. Learning to trust God, self and others is a process!

 

 

 

Lessons Learned in Depression, That Couldn’t Be Learned on the Mountaintop

This message“Lessons Learned in Depression, That Couldn’t Be Learned on the Mountaintop”  will be a quick read today.  As I think about this depression over the past 2 years or so, here are some things that I have learned about myself, God, and life.

  1. I matter, I am not bad, I have power, I can do good, I can love, I am worthy, I am joy.
  2. God has a purpose not only for me but for every single believer.
  3. It’s not enough to just to go to church once a week.
  4. When God says to give the first fruits of your work and tithe he doesn’t do that to punish you.  He does it to bless you.
  5. I’ve learned how to pray more effectively to God.
  6. I’ve learned that money isn’t everything.
  7. I’ve learned God isn’t a vengeful God, but a jealous God that is after your heart.
  8. God will move heaven and earth to show you His will.
  9. Relationships are extremely important.
  10. Medical science isn’t always correct.
  11. God’s plan isn’t always reasonable.
  12. God can do a lot with only a little.
  13. Demonic spirits are real.
  14. Fasting can lead to a more intimate relationship with God
  15. God cares more about your heart than you comfort level.
  16. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
  17. The Book of Proverbs is a great handbook of how to live a Christian life.
  18. The Book of Job teaches us how to walk through a valley experience.
  19. Sourthern Gospel music is awesome 🙂
  20. God can use depression to shape and mold us into the image of His Son.
  21. There is a limit to the darkness.
  22. God can use depression to prepare a person for His will for their life.

may-god-bless-you-my-darling

A Jealous God After Your Heart

God is a jealous God that wants a personal intimate relationship with you. He will do whatever it takes to make sure He is number one in your life. If something stands between you and God, you can be sure He will take it away! Mark it down! (He will also give it back, more on that later).

Probably the best example in my life was my running ability. I always had (still do) have a dream to qualify for the Boston Marathon. In order to qualify, I will need to break 3:05 for 26.2 miles. Now I have ran 5 marathons in my life and have got closer to that mark each time.

I’ve gone from 3:42 to 3:21 to 3:11 to 3:09 to 3:07. I was so close! And then my depression hit. I went from running 7 minute miles with ease to barely being able to run a few miles.

As the fog from the depression is lifting I can how running became an idol for me. If I achieved running a 3:05 marathon, then I would have done something “successful”. Whatever that means.  The truth is replaced the spot for God in my heart for running. I still would not of been a joyful had a qualified for the Boston Marathon.

Now I do believe God wants me to qualify for the Boston Marathon at some point, but He doesn’t want me thinking I have done it on my own strength. He wants me to recognize that my strength comes from him alone. Most importantly, I will have a right relationship with God.

Prayer: Thank you God for being so jealous for us.  Thank you for removing what ever prevents us from having a relationship with you. You loved us so much that You sent Your only Son Jesus to die at Calvary for our sins.  We are so grateful that you keep pursuing us even when we disobey and try to accomplish on our own strength. Have us recognize that You are the Vine and we are merely the branches. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

The God of Restoration

Some people have a view of God that God wants to only take from you. “Why would I want to give tithe and give 10% to God?” “Why did God allow me to be unemployed?”  “Why did God take my health from me?” These are some questions that I commonly here. Listen up.

If God is in the process of taking from you, he also is the God that will restore the very thing you thought you may have lost.

How many times have I heard stories of being people giving to God, and being blessed financially and any many other ways? You cannot out give God. Period.  How many times have I heard stories of people of losing their job to obtain a better career that has more meaning to their lives? How many times have I heard stories of losing their health, to only have it restored? Countless is the answer.  Praise God, He takes away meaningless jobs!

Job 42:10 states”And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.”

You see the Book of Job is not about a blameless man that suffers for no reason.  It is story about a man that lost everything to gain everything in his earthly and heavenly lives. It is a story that is still relevant in 2015.

In many ways, I feel like a Job.  I thought I had it all, the money, the house, the friends, the resources, etc. In reality I had nothing.  I didn’t have a personal intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.  I was a lukewarm Christian, which is a dangerous place to be in life (probably a blog post for a different date).

Like Job, I had to recognize that God is God and He can do what He wants in a person life.  As my bank account dwindles towards zero, I can’t help shake the feeling that God is about to do something that is about to do something awesome in my life. And not just financially.  In fact, I have more peace about my financial situation than I ever did when I was just hoarding my money.

God takes away from people, but He is also in the business of restoration.

Prayer: How grateful we are Father that you don’t take from us without the promise of restoration.  Thank you in advance for restoring lives, relationships, finances, and everything else.  You are the Provider.  You are the vine, while we are merely a branch.  Help us to draw closer to You in ways we could never imagine.  I pray in the power of the Holy Spirit that there is a spiritual awakening across this land.  Guide people to seek You and to find You. In Jesus name. Amen.