Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Real Relationship With Jesus

A Real Relationship With Jesus

Today's post is written by my wife, Robin Reynolds, taken from a message presented at a recent Healing Hearts Bible study. The message strikes deeply at the heart of what being a Christian is, and I'm grateful for Robin allowing me to post it here.

Being a Christian, a follower of Christ, isn't about following a list of rules. It's not about going through the checklist...Did I read my Bible today, did I pray, did I got to church this week?

No. It's about our relationship with Jesus Christ.

How dare we? How dare we reduce being a Christian to a simple set of rules. How dare we act as if the King of kings and the Lord of lords did not sacrifice His life so that we can have forgiveness of sins, an abundant life, and an intimate relationship with Him? How dare we behave as if this life that He has given us is all about us and our rule-following?

Sorry to burst everyone's bubble, but it isn't all about us. "Looking out for #1," and "having it our way," are lies of the Enemy.

Being a Christian is about having a relationship.

How is your relationship with Jesus? Do you have a relationship with Jesus? A real relationship? Do you know what a real relationship with Him looks like? Do you know how a real relationship develops?

Why is a relationship with our living Lord necessary?

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins...but God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trepasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved...I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

Ephesians 2:1,4-5; John 10:10 (ESV)

How do we behave when we love someone? We love our children, don't we? A parent's love is so powerful. We will do anything in order to see that our children are happy, with full bellies, a warm home, and clothes for their backs. But, more than seeing to their basic physical needs, we want them to flourish. We want them to feel loved; we want them to have joy and peace and to feel safe.

For those who are married, consider how your relationship with your husband first developed. Look back to when you were dating and were really wanting to pursue that one flesh relationship. We did all we could do to spend time with them. We did everything in our power to please them. We were so wrapped up in them that we neglected other people and other things in order to spend time with our beloved.

That is how we are to pursue Jesus.

Consider the price paid by God the Father and His Son, Jesus. It was no small price! Jesus endured anguish in His sacrifice for us. He left hehind his equality with God and became nothing, embracing total humility. He experienced betrayal, abuse, arrest and imprisonment, torture, violent assault, near death, excruciating pain...and crucifixion. Jesus was rejected despised, forsaken and abandoned.

Why did Jesus willingly embrace this level of suffering?

"God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God."

Ephesians 2:4-5,8 (ESV)

We were each born sinful, condemned to death, condemned to hell, condemned to an eternity without God. But Jesus saves us from that doom.

Salvation is a gift!

Why did Jesus endure the cross and all the horrendous things that led up to it?

"As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him...for your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds."

Psalms 103:11, 108:4 (ESV)

Jesus endured the cross because of His great love. It's not because we said a prayer, or because we in our own strength chose or decided. It was because He loved us with an everlasting love. He extended His grace to us so that we can have life. He died and rose again so that we would have a way to become His children and be in a close, loving relationship with Him.

It is not a natural thing to pursue God.

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all."

Isaiah 53:6 (ESV)

"The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do."

Galatians 5:17 (ESV)

Our flesh, our natural self, is opposed to God.

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

John 15:4-5 (ESV)

It is only because of His Spirit that we have any desire to have a relationship with Him.

So, what are you willing to order to have a real relationship with Him? A relationship with the One Who gave everything, the One Who gave His very life for you? Is He a necessary, deeply longed-for part of your life? Or are you simply surviving, content with going with the flow? Is your life thriving and fruit-bearing because of your God? Are you intentionally living with Him, purposely pursuing Him?

What does a genuine, intentional relationship with Jesus look like?

Think of the man who found treasure in a field and was so incredibly joyous at what he had found that he went home and sold everything in order to purchase the treasure. Are we that in love with Jesus? Can we look at our life...our thoughts and actions...and say, "Here is someone who loves Jesus!"

Do you have time for Him? Do you talk to Him, listen to Him? do you Obey Him? Trust Him? Love Him?

Are you walking in unbelief? Do you really believe that He can be trusted? Or are you anxious about the future, or worried about "stuff"? Are you secure in the knowledge that He loves you more than you can understand, and he will always do what is best for you?

Do you know that you are His precious child?

Are you hardhearted? Have you already made up your mind about what your life should look like? Do you desire to have God guide you? Do you recognize His voice when He speaks to your heart? God communicates to us through His Word, thorugh circumstances, and through other Christians.

Do we have spiritual ears to hear?

"Solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil."

Hebrews 5:14 (ESV)

"You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone."

James 2:22-24 (ESV)

Being in a relationship with Jesus means that we are immersed in His Word, we know it, we read it...we take it in: morning, noon and night. we practice it and we put it into action.

We spend time in prayer, talking and listening (mostly listening!).

"He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness."

Hebrews 12:10 (ESV)

We know Him well enough to recognize when He brings about circumstances in our lives in order to bring us closer to Himself.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."

Matthew 5:6 (ESV)

It means we lay down what we think we are due, what we think we deserve, and we hunger and thrst after righteousness so that we can be filled.

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."

Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)

"Therefore encourage one another with these words."

1 Thessalonians 4:18 (ESV)

We spend time with other Christians, encouraging others and being encouraged by them.

"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."

Romans 10:17 (ESV)

"Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?"

Galatians 3:2 (ESV)

"Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?"

Galatians 3:5 (ESV)

We listen to His Word and learn from Him so that our fiath will grow.

"Pray without ceasing."

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV)

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)

"Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved."

Philippians 4:1 (ESV)

Are we thankful? Or do we complain about our lot in life?

Has He called you? Has He opened your eyes to see your need for Him? Have you yielded and answered, "Yes!"?

Let's love Him so much that we are willing to lay down and sacrifice all that we are and have, in order to please Him.

Let's have a real relationship with Him, a relationship far more than superficial words and half-hearted actions.

It isn't fearful to submit to someone who loves you with an everlasting, unconditional love.

To know Jesus is to love Him.

Get to know Jesus, make Him your closest friend, and He will take care of everything else.

photo credit: Alan Cleaver via photopin cc

Modified by Milt Reynolds using GIMP.