Tag Archives: Jesus

More Relationship, Less Religion

Dear Father, all too often my relationship with you reverts to more religion than relationship. Praying, reading Your Word, Bible study, keeping rules, fasting, and quiet time with You are all good things. However, their value in getting closer to You diminishes if I do them as just routine, something more to check off my list of to-do’s.
One lure that draws me toward the religion trap is the foolish idea that I need do all those things so I can earn Your love, favor, attention, and approval. But of course these things (love, etc.) are gifts of Your grace, not things I earn. You already love me to the max. Jesus showed that when He suffered and died so I could be forgiven and reconciled to You. You are my Father, and I am Your child (John 1:12). Your Word overflows with declarations of Your favor for and attention to those who belong to You. Besides these, You’ve given us Your Holy Spirit so we have power and resources to live purposeful lives that please You.
I want to keep doing those good things, but let me do them because I love You and because they draw me closer to You. May I throw out any hint of earning anything. Thank You for reminding me of the wonderful truth that You desire relationship rather than religion. Amen.
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:8 New Living Translation)

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Cleaning My Thought Closet

The other morning as I walked along, one of those old “if-only” thoughts popped into my mind. I used to torment myself with those a lot. I’d whine, “If only I had gone God’s way instead of mine, then I wouldn’t have hurt so many people, and I would be enjoying ‘X’ benefit that I don’t enjoy now.” Possibly true, but I can’t change what I’ve done, and there’s no longer room in my life for “if-only.”

That kind of regret focuses on me, not on Jesus. It brings no honor to God. In fact, it hints that I have hindered His power to forgive and heal. It hisses that God is somehow limited by my failure. How ugly! I’m going to my thought closet right now to yank out every one of those if-only garments that the Holy Spirit will show me. That will make room for more praise and thanksgiving and additional attractive spiritual clothing (like humility and patience).

 

Hebrews 12:2a “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith….”
2 Corinthians 5:15 “And [Jesus] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for [Him] who died for them and was raised again.”
Ephesians 4:17, 22-24 “…[You] must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. …You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
(All Scripture quotes NIV)

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Take This Robe

I said, Father, I cannot come to You in my nakedness. Yet I have nothing fit to wear to enter Your presence. Any efforts to be good enough to come to You simply fall apart because they are just human.

My Father said, “Here, take the priceless robe that belongs to my Son–His glorious righteousness–and be clothed so you can come and talk with me.

I responded, Thank You! I can’t thank You enough! Thank You for enabling me to come speak with You. Amen.

“But we are all like an unclean thing. And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like, the wind, have taken us away.”
–Isaiah 64:6
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness….” –Isaiah 61:10
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” –2 Corinthians 5:21

(All Scriptures are New King James Version)

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Securely His

Sometimes I struggle with feelings of insecurity. John 10:22-30 often helps me overcome.

In this passage Jesus is in Solomon’s Temple with people surrounding Him. They say, “If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.

Jesus replies, “I did tell you, but you don’t believe Me because you aren’t My sheep” (verse 25).

In verse 27 He says, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.

My thought: I am one of Jesus’ sheep. I listen to His voice. He knows me and I follow Him.

Jesus says in verses 29-30, “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.

So I remind myself: I am securely in the hands of Jesus. God the Father won’t let me go, and Jesus won’t either.

Ephesians 3:6 also encourages me: “And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News…belong to Christ Jesus.“- New Living Translation) [The Good News is that we can have forgiveness of sins and be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ because of what He has done for us.]

I belong to Christ Jesus.

Other verses which help me replace insecurity with truth (Quoted from the Holman Christian Standard Bible):

Psalm 100:3-4 Acknowledge that the Lord is God. He made us, and we are His–His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name.

Isaiah 43:1 Now this is what the Lord says–the One who created you, Jacob, and the One who formed you, Israel–“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.”

Romans 14:8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Thank You, Lord, that I am securely Yours.

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Without Fault

I got excited about Ephesians 1:3-4 this morning: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”*

Wow! I am “united with Christ” and “in Christ,” so these verses apply to me. I wrote: “I praise You, God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! I praise and thank and love You, our Father in heaven, because you see me (and all Christ-followers) as holy and without fault, and you have blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm, and You loved and chose us before You made the world. And You are the One who placed us in Christ and united us with Him (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)! May Your name be ever praised!”

I heard a radio preacher say that God has “in-Christ-ed” us. He encouraged everyone to look in Scripture for the results of being in Christ. Besides Ephesians 1:3-4, one of my favorites is Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”*

*New Living Translation

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Spirit and Life

“The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life (John 6:63*).”

Thank You, Lord, that Your Spirit gives us life. You are the Vine. We are the branches. We draw our nourishment from You. (John 15:4-5) Depending on my own thinking and doing what looks good to me has never benefited anyone. I see that more as I trust You more.

Jesus, You said Your words are spirit and life. I want to fill up on Your words. But I see that if I want to partake of the life they give, I must also put those words into practice, doing what You say and persevering in that. [“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”–Matthew 7:24-27*  (Emphasis mine.)]

So if I find out what You said, write it down, and even memorize it, I can still miss out on the life You want me to have. To enjoy Your abundant life, I need to do what You say—obey You. I need the power of the Holy Spirit working in me to do that. And that is just what You promised!

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him (Philippians 2:13*).

Oh thank You, Lord, that Your Holy Spirit helps me today to feed on Your Word and do what it says. Amen.

(*Scripture quotes are New Living Translation.)

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God’s Word Seeds

Luke 8:11, 15, “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. …15 [T]he ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”

I want to be “good ground,” so when Jesus plants seeds from God’s Word in my heart., I will humbly receive them (James 1:21). Jesus gives me living water—His Word and His Spirit—for watering the plants. As they start to grow. I can nurture them with the plant food of faith that results in obedience. (James 2:17, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”) I will diligently practice applying God’s Word to my life. I need to pull out weeds like anger, bitterness, jealousy, regret, strife, pride, haughtiness, and anything else that interferes with nourishing my soul.                               

Then these plants in my heart can mature and produce Holy Spirit fruit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

(Scripture quotes are New King James.)

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