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May the Lord fill your life with the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

If God is not first in your life, then something else is (Deut 6:4-5, Matt 6:24, 33; 10:32-38, Mark 8:34, Luke 11:23, 1 John 5:21).

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How Is Your Relationship With Jesus?

 

Luke 11:28, 2 Peter 1:2-11, 1 John 1-2

 

I may have spent most of my life knowing Christ but never had an intimate relationship with Him until I started to read and study His Word. What I have come to realize in my maturing growth in Christ is that there is a false sense of security looming among those who think they know Christ (Revelation 3:16). As always, James boldly declares in James 1:22-24 that we must go beyond just hearing the Word. If we do not obey and live by His Word we are fooling ourselves. He points out that it is no different than the person who looks at themselves in the mirror and does nothing to improve their appearance.

 

To understand Christianity, one must first understand that it is not a religion or denomination. Rather Christianity is an evangelized faith in the resurrected Christ, and being a Christian means following in the example set by Christ (1 Peter 2:21-25). It simply means being Christ-like and was first coined in Antioch to describe the early believers (Acts 11:26). The first of these early believers were filled with the Spirit on the day of the Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) and set out to tell everyone, everywhere about the Good News [the Gospel] of the Messiah [Christ] that had been prophesied years before. Wherever the Christians went and whatever they said, they always spoke of salvation and obedience to God’s commandments. In the first day, the church had grown from some 120 to 3,000 ‘Born-again’ converts (Acts 1:15; 2:41)!

 

Throughout history and generations, though, there has been an exponential weakening of faith, a softening of sin, and leniency in following His Word. We have replaced our faith in God with faith in ourselves and others, and when our faith in others falters we rely on courts to settle the differences. We are quick to callout the sins of others but quicker to justify and even dismiss our own. We would rather make up our own subjective rules and arbitrary standards instead of obeying what the Lord has told us to do. We would rather hear from others what His Word says rather than read it for ourselves, even though each one of us is solely accountable for our own actions.

 

We will all have our own time with Christ. A time when we will all bow, all confess His authority and then be judged (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11-12, Philippians 2:9-11). Do you want someone else to be responsible for that day? This is such a profound and astounding fact that only a few will recognize, while many will apply it in every other area. At work, for example, not too many people will place their career in the hands of another person. The greatest danger exists when people repeatedly rely on the church to tell them about scripture without ever bringing a Bible to verify and follow along. I have come to realize that this is the very kind of situation that makes it impossible to develop any kind of relationship with Christ. In fact, this is the biggest reason why churches have fallout because the experience is not fruitful. Ask any party planner what the most important attraction is for attendance and invariably they will say food. So if the food is not good at church, why stick around? The food, of course, is the bread of Christ. Just like the manna of the Exodus, we must learn to feed on the Word of God so that we will obey and lean on Him (Deuteronomy 8:1-3).

 

While the majority of Americans identify themselves as Christians their actions are far removed from being Christ-like. The reason is very simple. It lies in the lackadaisical attitude toward the Bible; a Book that contains His inspired Word for us to read, study and follow. For the lawyer, it is the law book. For the athlete, it is the playbook. For the chef it is the cookbook. For the engineer, it is a detailed instruction guide. For the architect, it is the blueprint. For the pilot, it is the compass. And while everyone claims they “know what it says” few have actually completely read it. Frankly, that is the same playing field as the atheist and that is very dangerous ground to be walking on.

 

God has commanded that we study and remember His Word so that we can obey what He has told us to do (Deuteronomy 6). Our Father has given us the ability to know right from wrong but we really don’t know why until we read and study His Word (2 Timothy 3:16). How are we supposed to be faithful and obedient if we don’t know and understand His Word (Romans 6:13; 12:2, 1 Peter 1:13-23)? How can we abide in Him and be truthful in His works without knowing what His Word says (John 15:1-17)? This kind of blatant rejection robs us from being closer to God. He has an unlimited amount of unfailing love for us, and the only thing He truly wants is to have all of His children once again reunited with Him. Why anyone would want to remain separate and apart from God is beyond me.

 

When we read and study His Word we become closer to Him. We realize how much we need Him in order to be declared righteous and become worthy once again so that we can be in His presence. When we read and study His Word we understand that our sins are filth and in His purity He can’t even look filth (Isaiah 64:6, Habakkuk 1:13)! We can’t even touch Him let alone be near Him because He is so pure (2 Samuel 6:1-7)! But yet, He is so full of grace that He is willing to erase every kind of sin from our past through the blood of His Son (Romans 5:21, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Ephesians 2:5).

 

God has always kept His eyes on us. Consider the act at Calvary! No, nothing should ever be more important than our relationship with Christ. Once we take our eyes off of Christ and place them on something else we have only begun to jeopardize our relationship. We need to be citizens of God (Philippians 1:27)! If you are not living in the center of His will, then you are living in the center of your will. In other words you are choosing to live in doom. We have all heard that death and taxes are the only guarantees in life, but let me clarify that the death spoken about is actually Hell. That’s right. Hell is a guarantee for our actions and choices unless we repent and return to our first love (Revelation 2:4-5). Then we can embrace the promise that He holds for us – the LIVING HOPE OF GRACE! That is His guarantee (Romans 5:18, 1 Corinthians 15:22). Unless we are reading, studying and applying the Word of God in our lives our faith will become weak and constantly challenged by the enemy. Do you know what the full body armor of God is? Hint: read Ephesians 6. Do you know how to resist the enemy? Hint: read James 4.

 

The truth is, everything is worthless without faith in the fact that Jesus voluntarily died for all of our sins and rose again in order to give us new life (Romans 6:4, 1 Corinthians 15:13-18, 2 Corinthians 5:15, Titus 3:5, Hebrews 10:20 [Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45]). He laid down His life for the one who betrayed Him, for those who beat him, for the ones who flogged Him, for those who mocked Him, for those who spit on Him, for those who nailed Him, for those who gambled for His clothes, and for you & me! His blood was poured out as a new covenant [promise] between Himself and His people for the forgiveness of their sins (Matthew 26:28). However, when you read this you read that He says it was for “many” and not everyone. He used the same expression in Matthew 20:28. Why? Because we read earlier in Matthew 7:13-14 that “you can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to Hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” The question now is, how many is a few and are you in that singled-out group (Luke 13:22-30)?

 

Later in Matthew 7:21-23 we read that “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” Again, this is not just for the false prophets but for those not doing the will of God. In Galatians 6:7-8 we read “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.” When we do have our one-on-one meeting, we will be naked with nothing to hide. God knows everything even before it happens. When we do not read and study His Word, we are disobeying and rejecting Him in our lives. Whatever choice we make, we will reap what we sow.

 

We need to be ready for the day of judgment. On that day one of two things will happen. You will either be recognized as a faithful servant or dismissed as a wicked servant (Luke 12:35-48, Matthew 24:43; 50-51); you will either be welcomed into Heaven or denied and thrown into the lake of fire (Matthew 7:21, Revelation 20:15). This is what we learn about the last days when we read the Bible:

 

üKeep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36, Mark 13:33)

üThe day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2)

üThe day of the Lord will come like a thief (2 Peter 3:10)

üI will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you (Revelation 3:3)

üI am coming quickly (Revelation 3:11)

üLook, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, who keep their clothing ready so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed. (Revelation 16:15)

üMatthew 24:4-8; 15; 36-51, Mark 13:5-8; 14; 32-37, Luke 12:35-48

 

Conclusion: ALWAYS BE FAITHFUL, WATCHFUL, ALERT, and PRAYERFUL

 

I thought I knew the Bible. I relied on my own understanding and sought after whatever I wanted to hear. I was listening, reading and attending just about every self-help idea out there. What I didn’t realize was that death had its grip around my neck. I was doomed. But after reading and studying His Word I have learned to draw close to Him, seek after Him, lean on Him, rely on Him, and surrender everything unto Him. By reading and studying His Word I have strengthened my relationship in Christ because of what His Spirit has given me. I am nothing without Him… and, if His glory is good enough for me, it is certainly good enough for you and for you to share with others. Call on Him now (Isaiah 55:6-7).

 

 

Created Wednesday, April 08, 2009