"God didn't send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what He has done, collecting a following for Him" (1 Corinthians 1:17)

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Living Relationship with God is Possible

Scripture to reflect upon for Truth Tuesday: Galatians 2:21 (The Message)
If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

For many, many, MANY years I lived fearfully under the tyranny of the Old Testament God who punished, scorned and scolded me often. I have a feeling there are a lot of people who are still under this impression of God without realizing the Truth and reality of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Those who “fear” the OT God see Him as someone Who is seemingly never happy because His rules are always broken. This way of thinking puts a wedge between us and God. We don’t see how we are ever able to have a “living relationship” with Him, because we feel our sin or disobedience keeps us from His love. Unfortunately, when we feel that way about God, we too, keep God at arms length. We don’t want Him too close because we feel unworthy of being in His presence.

We all know rules are never easy to follow. Years ago I attended a Job Seeking Skills class and we were all instructed to read the directions and then fill out a mock application. We all feverishly filled it out as quick as we could, only to discover the very first line of the directions told us to put our pencils down and not fill out any part of the application. 100% of us failed! We aren't reading the directions in the bible. The directions are clear: Jesus died for us so that we would no longer be under the law. "Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ" (Galatians 2:16). "I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, then Christ died for nothing" (Galatians 2:21).  

God thought that if we just loved Him enough, as His commandment said (“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” Deuteronomy 6:5), that it would be easy to adhere to His rules. But if loving God couldn’t help us to do right, like a parent, setting rules and guidelines, God put His foot down. He had standards for His children, just as you hopefully have for your own children.

What we fail to realize is that God knew that following the rules would not be easy, and we would often find ourselves in trouble with the law. So to show us His love, mercy and grace, He sent Jesus to take on our sins, our sicknesses, and our guilt and shame. He took it all on the cross.

We can’t have a “living relationship” with God under bondage and rules. How can we sit with God knowing we always disappoint Him? Our disobedience gets so out of control that we end up feeling as if we’ve “fallen from grace.” Friends, that’s not possible! And God is never disappointed in us because Jesus stands BEFORE us. He paid the price for everything and stands before God on our behalf. He took God’s wrath for our sins and disobedience.

All God has ever wanted was us to be His friend. Look at His relationship with Adam and Eve before the fall. Consider that He referred to Abraham as His friend ("Abraham believed in God...and he was called God's friend." James 2:23). We are God’s desire, but our shame and guilt kept us from Him, and He hated that more than our sin!

Christ died so we could know God fully. So that we could walk with Him again without fear of being punished. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” that meant there was nothing left for us to do except be loved BY God and let His love for us guide us to do the right things. If we fail, that’s okay, because God’s grace covers us always when we accept Jesus as our Savior.

NOTE TO SELF: God’s grace and Christ’s death made us righteous, allowing us to be God’s friend again; a living relationship with God! Who wouldn’t want THAT?!

If you’ve been feeling scorned by God, feeling unworthy of His love, you have GOT to know that His love is so HUGE and so wide that He gave His Son—Himself—for us so that we would know Him fully. We don’t have to be tied down to rules and laws because Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

You don’t need to feel condemned anymore. You don’t need to feel guilty about your past or your mistakes. Jesus died for all, not for a select few. “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only our sins, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). The Message translation of this scripture says, “He solved the sin problem.” That’s excitingly Good News!

Jesus is not a cult, or a following. Joseph Prince once said that grace is not a “thing,” but instead a “person,” God! Asking Jesus to be your savior won’t make you a raving lunatic, nor will anyone ask you to drink the Kool Aid. Jesus helps us draw closer to God. There’s nothing spooky or nutty about it. You can’t believe in God without believing God sent Jesus. Everything changed the minute Jesus died on the cross. It made a Way directly to God’s heart for you to have a living relationship with Him...the way He intended it to be! 

All it takes is one simple prayer with a request to be forgiven and a thankful heart that Jesus took all your sins upon Himself so that you could be a friend of God again. Let it surge from your soul, and God will show up…faithfully!

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