Relationship

I Know You!

But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Matthew 7:23 (NLT)

There are a few places in the New Testament that Jesus says things like today’s text. Sometimes like in the parable of the 10 virgins, they weren’t ready and he said it. There are other places where people say “But, we did this for you and that for you.” Almost like they deserve to go to heaven for their actions.

When I read these texts and hear Jesus say “Go away, I never knew you.” I shudder. It makes me determined to “know him.” And in my humanness, I then try to do more because that is how I am wired. I’m thinking I am not alone in this line of thinking.

Don’t get me wrong. The Bible is full of things we are supposed to do. We are supposed to go, serve and love. There are a lot more. Being a Christian is not an idle task. It’s a way of life that is full of activity. What gets us hung up is the motive behind the activity. We cannot earn our way to heaven. That is a done deal sealed with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. What God wants is a relationship with us.

What does that look like? It looks like communicating with him in prayer. It looks like spending time in the Bible and listening for his voice. It looks like lingering in his presence. It also looks like doing (obedience). Obedience to what he is telling you to do. And, it looks like surrender. Letting go of our stuff to have more of his stuff.

This weekend, I started looking at this text in a slightly different way. I imagined coming up to Jesus and having him point at me and say in a really loud voice “I KNOW YOU!” I imagined running to him and jumping into his arms and sobbing with joy at the sound of those three words.

Can you imagine it? There would be nothing better. Ever.

How Do You Worship?

But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter. “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” John 4:22-24 (MSG)

As Jesus leaned in and talked to the woman at the well, he did what he always does with us, he started focusing on her heart. He pointed out things in her life that were not what they should be. He highlighted her sins with his “only Jesus can fix this” spotlight. Jesus gently let her know that he could see what she was struggling with.

As the conversation between them became more intimate, she did what we all do. She deflected. This was getting too personal and uncomfortable. Let’s talk about something less heartfelt…..like where we should worship. Should we worship in this church or that church? Which denomination is better, yours or mine? The woman tried to make the topic of importance about something other than her life.

Jesus cut to the heart of the matter again.

He said all that stuff doesn’t matter. It is semantics. What matters is what is in your heart. What matters is that you worship God with all of your soul, with your very being. When you are in a relationship with me, your life will be changed. You will become a different person. That new being, that new person is where the worship starts. The way you live your life is your worship.

Are you living your life in worship? Do the decisions you make and the way you live life reflect a heart that is in love with Jesus? If not, then there is something missing. We were not created to just attend church and check the box. We were intended to worship with all of our heart, soul and mind.

That’s what a life surrendered to Jesus looks like.

Slowing Down To Be Saved

11 As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. 12 As he entered a village there, ten men with leprosy stood at a distance, 13 crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. 15 One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” 16 He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed (or saved) you.” Luke 17:11-19 (NLT)

Normally, when we read this story we focus on the fact that nine men did not come back and thank Jesus. But as I read it again, two things stood out to me. Isn’t it great that each time you read something in the Bible God reveals something new?

Verse 14 says “As they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.” This made me think of our lives. Most of the time, when we need healing from something, whether it be physical or spiritual, it’s a process. It’s something that happens as we go. This is especially true with spiritual things. Each day, as we look to Jesus, we are changed. Sometimes in ways we can’t even recognize until we look back. But all along the way he is working in our hearts. This process is called sanctification. I think the “as you go” part is especially important because God uses our challenges, our suffering and our lives in general to grow us.

Another thing that stood out to me was what Jesus said to the man who returned. He had already been healed. Jesus said “Your faith has saved you.” It’s never our external condition that saves us. It’s never about what we look like on the outside. It’s more about what is happening on the inside. It’s from the inside that we show our love and praise for God. The man who returned entered into relationship with Jesus. He didn’t just continue on his way. He stopped, he drew near and he praised. That is what saved him.

It’s so easy to continue down our path and not take note of what God is doing or has done. It is super important to stop, draw near to Jesus and ponder God’s goodness. Isn’t it?

Seeking Through Surrender

O my son, give me your heart.
    May your eyes take delight in following my ways. Proverbs 23:26 (NLT)

Today my church kicks of a 40-Day Fast. We are seeking to hear what God has to say about the direction he is giving us. We can fast in a variety of ways. In short, you can do a food fast which is fasting from all food or a specific food or a soul fast. A soul fast is giving up something in your life that may be a distraction from hearing God’s voice (i.e. social media, games on devices, etc.) The purpose of a fast is not just to give something up but to add more of God in.

I decided to give up TV. Now, my schedule is such that I don’t get to watch TV every day. I don’t think I am addicted to it. But, I felt God saying this is what I have to fast from. I have to be honest. I was struggling with this. I couldn’t figure out why I was reluctant. I spend a lot of time with God; doing God-type things. I don’t spend a ton of time watching TV. What’s the deal?

I started praying about this yesterday, as I lamented not watching TV for 40 days. I came to the place where I realized that TV is my “comfort food” for my brain. It’s where I go to forget. It’s where I go to totally turn off and ignore everything around me. I decided that this was probably why I was struggling.

This morning, every place I turned in my worship was about surrender. It dawned on me that maybe God asked me to do this particular thing because it was the one thing I didn’t want to surrender.

I can eliminate any food from my diet. Been there done that.. There are a lot of mind over matter things I can accomplish. For some reason, this is different. And honestly, I don’t know why. But God does. And because he is asking, I am going to do it. I am going to surrender this.

I know in the process I will learn something about myself that i did not know. But more importantly, I am going to learn something about God that I did not know.

What is it in your life that God might ask you to surrender? Are you willing to do that so you can see him more clearly?

Beautiful Silence

If God remains silent, who is fit to raise his voice against Him? Job 34:29 (VOICE)

Some days when I pray and sit down to write these posts, I get nothing. God doesn’t say anything about what he wants to say. He doesn’t speak. He doesn’t give me a clue.

That happens when I pray too. I don’t hear an answer. I can’t figure out what He wants.

There are so many articles out there about what we can do when God isn’t speaking. And sure, the self-reflection is a good thing to practice but maybe, just maybe, we are supposed to relax in the silence.

If we know that God is there; if we believe that he loves us and has not abandoned us, shouldn’t we be OK with silence sometimes? When I sit with my husband, family member or close friend and there is no need for words, I find it comforting. Sometimes, the relationship transcends words. In the silence there is beauty.

Maybe we should stop worrying about always doing something or striving for some activity. Maybe we should relax in the love that we know is there and bask in the silence of a Creator who is always present even if he is not always vocal.

A Minute In It - The Door

A minute in God’s Word will change your life. Take a moment to read the texts below and then ponder the questions at the bottom of the post.

23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?”

He replied, 24 “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. 25 When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’

28 “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out. 29 And people will come from all over the world—from east and west, north and south—to take their places in the Kingdom of God. 30 And note this: Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then. Luke 13

If we know that we can receive salvation only through Jesus, what does he mean when he says “Work hard to enter the narrow door?”
What do you have to do to be able to walk through the door?

Now read this same passage (below) in the Message.

23-25 A bystander said, “Master, will only a few be saved?”

He said, “Whether few or many is none of your business. Put your mind on your life with God. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires your total attention. A lot of you are going to assume that you’ll sit down to God’s salvation banquet just because you’ve been hanging around the neighborhood all your lives. Well, one day you’re going to be banging on the door, wanting to get in, but you’ll find the door locked and the Master saying, ‘Sorry, you’re not on my guest list.’

26-27 “You’ll protest, ‘But we’ve known you all our lives!’ only to be interrupted with his abrupt, ‘Your kind of knowing can hardly be called knowing. You don’t know the first thing about me.’

28-30 “That’s when you’ll find yourselves out in the cold, strangers to grace. You’ll watch Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets march into God’s kingdom. You’ll watch outsiders stream in from east, west, north, and south and sit down at the table of God’s kingdom. And all the time you’ll be outside looking in—and wondering what happened. This is the Great Reversal: the last in line put at the head of the line, and the so-called first ending up last.”

And again the question, what do you have to do to walk through the narrow door?

Written Just For You

For the word of God is alive and powerful. Hebrews 4:12 (NLT)

A few years back we went through a very difficult time. It was a time of life falling apart. Nothing was sure except that I was unsure. I was unsure about everything. In a blink of an eye we could lose it all. During this time, I felt God tell me to wait on him and trust that he was going to provide.

Man, is that hard. Each day I would wake up totally insecure feeling that the bottom was going to fall out. I was so overwhelmed that I would get up and go talk to God and look for what he had to say…mostly because I didn’t know what else to do. It was what made me feel better. During those times, God would speak. Each day in my worship I would read my Bible, read devotionals or other books and each day there was a Word from the Lord.

Some days it was in the form of encouragement. Some days it was about my relationship with Jesus. Some days it told me to trust and hold steady. The messages were always there and they always calmed my soul.

I started pondering the powerful Word of God. It was so alive and on point. And personal. That’s when I realized I had had a bias about reading my Bible. When I was growing up, I always heard "You should read your Bible.” I felt I had to do it to check the box. Of course, my thoughts were wrong.

After this experience with the Word, I realized that God uses the Bible to speak to us. It is a personal conversation with each of us individually every single time we open it up. That specific phase in my life is over but I still turn toward my Bible every day to hear what God is trying to tell me. I want to know him more and hear how he loves me. I want to hear what he wants.

Friend, if you see the Bible as part of a Christian checklist or if you are sure it will be boring and offer nothing, I encourage you to pick it up. Pick it up with the idea that you are going to find God in it. Pick it up so you can be part of a love story that jumps off the pages into your life and heart.

I promise you, there is power and healing in those Words.