Friendship with God

This is a bit connected to God’s Feelings.

God wants to have a relationship with us. God wants to be more than just our King and our Father, He wants to be our Friend. You spend time with a friend and get to know them, and they do the same with you. It goes both ways.

Since it goes both ways, what happens when one friend doesn’t put any effort into the relationship? When a friend stops calling and stops returning calls, eventually the other stops trying. The one doesn’t want to hang out, so the other gives them what they want and leaves them alone. When it comes to our friendship with God, the one not returning calls certainly won’t be Him, but it is us more often than we realize. So like we would do with another friend, God lets us have what we want. We don’t want to hang out, so we don’t. We wonder why God doesn’t talk anymore when we were the ones who stopped talking.

God is jealous, but He will not force Himself on us. He will still put forth effort, but if you don’t want to be with Him or talk with Him, He often will give you exactly what you want.

More on relationship with God:
Personal Relationship
Daily Relationship

Thankful for Salvation

As I was praying in bed this morning, I was taking a little more time to thank God than usual. I thanked Him for everything that came to mind, big things and little things. As I prayed I realized that all the things I was thanking Him for were things that I don’t deserve and things I’ve done nothing to get. So I thanked Him for that, too!

Of all the things I thanked Him for, I thought about the most important one being the one I absolutely least deserve: salvation from sin and a place in Heaven.

I have never done anything worthy of getting into Heaven or meriting God’s love and favor. I will never do anything worthy of those – I literally can’t. The only way I can do anything even remotely pleasing to God is through God’s help and instruction. I wouldn’t know what God finds good and pleasing unless God gave me that knowledge in the first place, I wouldn’t have a reason to try doing good unless I loved God in return for His love to me, and I wouldn’t have any way of being good without God’s help.

Salvation is something we have never and will never deserve, but that’s one of the things that makes it so thank-worthy! God gives us things we don’t deserve every day, such as existence, weather, food, breath, the ability to do and to think, the universe and all it’s beauty. Then because He knew we’d need more, He made a way through Jesus for us to escape the ultimate penalty of sin and to be with Him in Heaven as if we’d never sinned at all!

Thank you, God, for giving me all that I do not deserve, especially your Son’s death and resurrection to save me from death!

More things for thankfulness:
Thankfulness
Counting Your Blessings
Thankful and Content
There’s Always a Reason to Be Thankful

God’s Feelings

In The One Year Hearing His Voice Devotional by Chris Tiegreen, I read the other day about our feelings connecting us with God. The Sunday School lesson yesterday added to what I’d found.

God is not a detached, impassive being. He has emotions and feelings, and gave us the ability to have them also. When we feel the pain of being put on the back burner or the feeling of rejection, God knows what that’s like. He feels like that every day as we do the same to Him. When we feel the joy of a wayward loved one getting back to the right path, God knows what that’s like. He feels it every time someone gets saved and every time a wayward Christian turns back to Him. From the deepest pain and loss to the greatest joy and bliss, God knows what it feels like.

God has given us the ability to have feelings and emotions like He does, both pleasant and unpleasant, so that we can relate with Him. We and God can understand each other in this way.

When you feel something, pause and see what it tells you about God’s heart.

Trusting God with Others

In the sermon last Sunday evening one of our young men preached. He talked about when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18), and how Abraham had to trust God not with his own life this time, but with his son’s life. He pointed out that parents need to trust God with their children’s lives as well as their own, and with or without children, we must all trust God with the loved ones in our lives.

God wants the best for all of us and we know this, but we so often have problems acting like we know it, believing and trusting that God will take care of things. Think about it: if you can trust God with your life because He knows everything and is supremely loving, then it makes sense to trust God with other people since He loves and knows them just the same. I realize saying this doesn’t necessarily make that trust any easier, but it puts things into a little perspective. Let God work with you on it. Ask Him for help, He is more than willing and able.

Other posts on trusting God with more:
Trust Issues
For Eternity and for Today
Conversations with God – Clean Your Room
Fear, Worry, and Trust

Living Like a Fool

The sermon yesterday morning prompted this post. In Psalm 14:1 we see that the fool says in his heart that there is no God. We find this verse quite easy to apply to atheists, but how many times have we Christians behaved and made decisions as if there is no God? We may not say out loud that there is no God, and we may not realize the attitude building up in our hearts, but we sometimes do not behave as if we believe there really is a God.

If you’re wondering about a few telltale signs that you’re behaving as if God doesn’t exist, I have a few points noted from the sermon.

You may be living a life that says there is no God if…
…you do not tithe,
…you do not witness,
…you do not serve,
…you worry and fret.

If God does not exist, then He can’t provide and there is no sense or point in tithing. If God does not exist, then there is no one and nothing to be witnessing about. If God does not exist, then there is no need to bother serving others and giving of myself to display His love. If God does not exist, then I am the only one who can do anything to help myself in life, and with my limited control I have to worry about so many things.

We call others fools for saying there is no God, so how much more foolish are we when we say God exists but act like He doesn’t? We’ve met God and known Him for a while! We have more proof to go with!

We must lead lives that show people that we really believe God is actually real. If we really believe in God, who He says He is, and what He has done, then we won’t go around like practical atheists, we will go around like God has things handled.

Charity

Sometimes my dad and I get to talking about charity and how helping others should be done by individuals. Not that charity organizations are bad, but when helping people becomes something that others do without your help, we tend to stop helping altogether.

The word “charity” has come to mean helping those in need, but that definition has become a little emptier than it should be. We’ve forgotten why we help those in need, and sometimes even how. Before charity meant just helping others, it was connected to words like love, compassion, mercy, costliness, esteem, and affection, especially connected to Christians and our expression of these things to others. Charity isn’t something you do because you feel sorry for all the “poor wretches,” charity means to hold someone in value and to love them. When you value and love someone, you help and give to them because of that love.

God has called us to love the people around us, to come alongside them and walk with them. Charity is not something only for big organizations, and originally we didn’t have them. Originally, charity is for you and me to help the people around us on an individual, personal level. Not only are things more tailored at the personal level, it also means much more to both the receiver and the giver.

A little more on loving and helping others: Remote Christianity

Mind Your Attacks

As Christians we are in a spiritual war. But sometimes we forget who the real enemy is and we start attacking the humans that God has called us to love and invite to His side.

Sometimes Christians, or people who merely say they are, berate people for having sin in their lives as if said Christian has never sinned and doesn’t struggle with it anymore. So many are fond of quoting 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and beating people over the head with it, but forget about verse 11: we were these people. And if you really look at the list of sins Paul wrote out, we all still struggle with a lot of them, even if only in our minds (see what Jesus said about thoughts in Matthew 5:27-28). We don’t qualify for the kingdom of God either, it is God that makes us qualify. God didn’t brutally attack us to win us to Himself and make us qualified, so why should we Christians attack someone that God wants drawn near?

Just because someone has sin that you don’t struggle with, or sin that is more obvious than yours, or sin that makes you more uncomfortable than other kinds of sin, doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to treat them as lesser than you, or somehow un-rescuable. Jesus did not die and rise again for only you. Jesus’ power is not limited to changing only certain people’s lives. Is God loving and all-powerful, or isn’t He? Jesus loves the whole world, every single person in it, and has the power to change every person’s life. You and I are not called to push people around or attack them; we are called to love them, to help them, to tell them the truth in a winsome and kind manner.

Jesus has plenty of love and power for every person, even the ones we don’t like. Remember who you were and remember the God you serve. If God can point to your sin and still gently bring you to Himself, then He can certainly do it for someone else. If God can turn you around and change your life and behavior, then He can certainly do this for someone else.

Good in the End

Throughout the Bible we see stories of people’s lives ending for good. Good triumphs over evil. Even when it looks like evil has the upper hand, good always wins. In life today good still wins. At the end of the Bible we see in the future that good will have the final triumph over evil, good will have the last word. And boy, we humans love telling stories and talking about good prevailing over evil, too! Be it in books, movies, songs, poems, plays, everyday conversations, and whatever else, we humans just know that if things aren’t good right now, they must not be over.

That last part is just so interesting to me. We humans have an innate knowledge that things are supposed to get better. We instinctively hold on for better times, hanging onto hope, and rejoicing when the good comes! Even in our most hopeless times, we humans have a tendency to stick it out for when things get better.

God put this knowledge and instinct there. Isn’t that great? God gave us the ability to hang in there, to hold on tight for that which is to come! We Christians can especially hold on, since we know that God is the One who makes all things right in the end, that He is deeply involved in our lives, and that we can go directly to Him for help whenever we need it!

God is good. He is the One who wins in the end, the One who sets all things right, and He wants us all to be there on His side with Him! Whenever things get tough, go to the One who gave you the ability to hang on, and you’ll find out just how much He can hang on to you!

It might be dark now, but remember there is a sunrise! And though the sun may set again in this life, when God sets things right there will be a sunrise that never goes dim!

If things aren’t good right now, then things aren’t over.

Being Happy, Being Holy

I’ve written about this before in Holiness and Happiness, but upon reading a devotional this morning, I don’t think I spent enough time emphasizing an important part in that blog post. Yes God cares more about your holiness than your happiness, but God has designed us to be happy with holiness.

In Leviticus 19:2, 20:7, and 1 Peter 1:16, God says to be holy because He is holy. In each of these references the command for holiness is given in the context of keeping God’s other commandments.

In John 15:10-11 we see Jesus teaching about joy, again in the context of keeping God’s commandments. He also speaks of God’s love, of abiding in Him, of loving God, and of loving others.

So we see the instructions, commandments, and attitudes that God tells us to do, to keep, and to have are things that make us both holy and happy. Both holiness and happiness come from God loving us, from us loving God, from our wholehearted obedience to God, from just being with God and spending time with Him, and from loving others. While life won’t always be easy and won’t always be pleasurable, God is always with us and in us. We can have happiness in the midst of difficult times and holiness in the midst of depravity around us.

God designed holiness and happiness to completely go together!

Making Lists

We all have lists: things we need to do, things we want to do, offenses committed against us, good things done for us, things someone else needs or wants us to do, things in the budget or not. Let’s look at the offensive list.

You will obtain quite a list of offenses against you in life. What you do with that list makes a huge difference in how joyful and free you can be in life. I’m not saying to just let people get away with things, I am saying we should learn to let go of the negativity from offenses that so easily drags on us. When looking at the offense list, it helps to remember what God did with your list. If you and I think we have offenses, think about how offended a perfectly holy God is with fallen humans every day! As Christians, when we look at our specific lists of offenses and are thinking about what to do with them, we need to remember what God did with ours. Let God help you forgive as well as He does.

Now let’s talk about the good things list. Even if we’re doing well and getting rid of the offenses list, we should also be paying more attention to the good things! People do good things for us all the time. God does good things for us all the time. Sometimes we don’t realize some of the good things that are done, and we don’t put them on the list. But if we pay attention and listen to God, He can write that list more accurately.

Actually, God can write any list more accurately, be it the good things or the offenses, or even the things you need to do. Let God help you make your lists, and then let Him help you handle them!