The Nature Of Our Relationship With God

Clouds of Glory

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What is the nature of our relationship with God?

Is it active — what we do for God?

Is it passive — He does it all in us and uses us without any response on our parts?

I believe it’s a responsive relationship.

God invites; I respond.

God convicts: I repent.

God forgives; I am set free!

God inspires; I live it.

God speaks; I listen.

I speak; God listens.

I request; God answers.

I obey; God empowers and blesses.

I “hunger”; God fills.

I surrender; God’s uses me.

How Our Worship Might Change…

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I have been considering the concept of worship a lot lately.

True worship is incredibly beautiful!

Worship is also a very important part of our relationship with God.

Worship fulfills our purpose in life, which is to worship God.

Worship helps to “re-align” ourselves with God (brings us into submission/surrender to Him).

Worship brings us into fellowship with God.

For all of its significance in the Christian’s life, it is amazing how little we really practice true worship.

I believe that a lot of what we think is worshipping God is more our own words, formats, and programs.  Let me explain…

A couple of weeks ago this so struck me.  I was pondering how we come to “worship meetings” with our “cups” already filled with our own thoughts concerning God.  In other words, we look at Scripture from our perspectives and pull out of it what we think “worship” should sound like or look like.  We then bring our thoughts and present it as worship to God.

I believe we often come to “worship” God with our “vessels” already filled with ourselves — what we think sounds “worshipful”?

What if instead, we spent quiet time alone with God, simply “resting” in His Presence, listening to Him, seeking Him in His Word, and waiting for Him to fill us with His thoughts, desires, and Presence?

What if we, from the outpouring of abiding in His Presence and His filling us with His Words and excellencies, then proclaimed this in heart-felt response to Who He is?  Wouldn’t the “flavor” or “tone” of our worship be more authentic and be what truly glorifies God — rather glorifying our own words?

Matthew 15:9

And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”[a]

Mark 7:7

And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’[a]

John 4:23

23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

John 4:24

24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

 

The Essence of Godliness

grapes

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I grew up with the desire to be “godly.”  What I thought that word meant was a focus on my performance, my actions, how I lived.

I wanted to be “godly” because I wanted to “be someone” to God, to others, to myself.  My identity was in being a “good person” or being “godly.”  (My false identity.)

If you had asked me, I would have said something like, “Godliness comes from God.”

In actuality, I lived that godliness was something I did for God.

What I have come to learn in recent years is that godliness comes from God.

In fact, I, in myself, am incapable of being “godly.”

It is the Presence of God, His Holy Spirit, in me that produces true righteousness.

The true essence of “godliness” is a God-filled life.  That’s it, in a “nut-shell.”

The more I am in Christ and He in me, the more I will be “godly.”

How does this happen?  How do I have “more” of Christ in me?  How am I more in Him?

This is how we abide in Him: (everything we do comes from Him).

John 15:1-5

The True Vine

15 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;[a] and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

1 John 2:6

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

1 John 3:6

Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.

Scripture tells us how He dwells within us:

John 14:16

16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—

1 John 2:27

27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will[a] abide in Him.

1 John 2:14

14 I have written to you, fathers,
    Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I have written to you, young men,
    Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you,
    And you have overcome the wicked one.

What an amazing truth this is!  We can abide in Him, and He abides within us.

If we desire to live a godly life, let’s remember that it is not anything we do for God.  It’s what we do from God, or more accurately, what He does in us.

The Motivation

 

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In yesterday’s devotional thought, I was reading about the story of Ananias and Sapphira.

Their story is the following record in Scripture:

Acts 5:1-10

Lying to the Holy Spirit

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.

Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?”

She said, “Yes, for so much.”

Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband.

This is what my devotional book, Men & Women Of The Bible said in regards to these two people:

Almost any group will include those who want to belong without the trouble of real commitment.  The early Christian church had its share of those who failed to count the cost.  Ananias and Sapphira preferred to appear committed rather than to be genuine in their faith.  They were under the mistaken notion that appearances were just as good as the real thing, but cheaper.  Caught in the act of dishonest giving, they lost everything.

When he confronted Ananias, Peter made the problem very clear.  Ananias and his wife were not obliged to give to the church.  That wasn’t the problem.  Ananias’ sin came when he desired to gain prestige by making others think he had given the entire amount of the property sale when he had only given part of the money.

What powerful and convicting words!  Are we more concerned about appearances, or are we committed to the God who sees everything, knows everything, and who desires us — all of us?

Another powerful point made in the devotional book, Men & Women Of The Bible said in regards to this situation:

Among those he intended to deceive was God.

…It’s often tempting to bend the truth, but have you ever thought about who you’re really trying to deceive?  How often would we stop twisting the truth if we truly and fearfully realized that beyond those people we may fool is a God we cannot deceive?

Wow!  Let me re-state that quote again…

“Beyond those people we may fool is a God we cannot deceive.”

God, purify our hearts.  We come before you, knowing that we are so easily deceived — deceived by the lies and deceived by our own fleshly desires.  Right now, we come before you, acknowledging the sinfulness and deception of our own hearts and acknowledging the Superior Excellence of You!  We ask you to reveal any ways within us that are not aligned with your will and ways.  We ask you to soften our hearts towards you and to bring us into repentance before you so that you might restore us into a closer relationship with You.  Knowing that you are a good God and a loving God, we want you above all else — above the shallowness and decay of our own desires.  Change our desires so that it is You we desire above all else!

What Does “Fear of God” Mean?

Scanner Fear 3

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In Scripture, there are dozens – more like hundreds – of verses on “fearing” God.

When my husband and I were recently discussing this topic of “fearing” God, he was saying, “People should fear God.”  My response was, “If the only response this fear produces is to run from God rather than submit to God, it is pointless.  It’s a sinful fear that produces nothing good.  If though people fear God correctly, they will repent and turn to God.  That is the only kind of fear that is good.  In other words, not all fears of God are good.” (BTW, we both agree on this.)

Let me explain in more detail…

Is all “fear of God” correct or good?

What does it mean to “fear God”?

In the beginning of time, we see when Adam and Eve first “feared” God and what was the cause and result of that fear.

Genesis 3:6-10

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

Here we see one type of “fear” of God.  This is what I would call “sinful fear.”  This kind of fear causes us to recognize the power of God, but instead of yielding to it, we run from it.

When confronted with the righteousness and power of God, we have a response to make.  We either repent and submit ourselves to God, or we reject Him/rebel and run from Him.

There are many verses that talk about the right type of “fear” of God.  Perhaps, this is better described as such overwhelming respect/awe that we are humbled and surrender our own wills to Him.

Deuteronomy 10:12

The Essence of the Law

12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

Psalm 89:7

God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints,
And to be held in reverence by all those around Him

The wrong kind of fear trembles at the power of God, still clings to its own self-preservation and will, and runs from or opposes the will of God.

The following verses describe the wrong kind of fear that the world has:

Philippians 2:10

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,

The world will “bow” before God but not in reverence/submission.  (At the confrontation of His Power, there is no physical strength left to stand in His Presence.)

Revelation 21:8

But the cowardly, unbelieving,[a] abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Psalm 67:7

God shall bless us,
And all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.

The world will “fear” God but not to submit to Him.

James 2:19

19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

The demons “fear” God.  They fear His power but not in the “right” sense — that which leads them to submit or to repent.

To simplify this, godly “fear” leads us to repentance.  Sinful “fear” causes us to run, hide, rebel, just like we saw Adam and Eve do.

I believe that sinful fear is inter-connected with pride.  Rather than repenting, we run from God, which means we are relying on ourselves.

I believe that self-reliance is the definition of pride.  It is independence from God, which is sin.  See my earlier blog post: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2016/02/02/the-simplicty-about-sin.

God had shown me earlier that rebellion comes from distrust.  God then posed the question to me: “From where does distrust come?”

Distrust can come from wounds, but it can also come from learning to rely on ourselves (self-reliance) which is pride.

This is the key thought:

Self-reliance is the flesh’s sinful response to lies about God as a result of the hurts we have experienced. 

We all experience wounds in this world — some to a greater extent than others.  It is how we respond to those wounds that changes everything!

There is one more aspect in regards to the “fear of God” that we need to discuss.  It’s the concept of consequences.

In the past, what I thought was “fearing God” was really more about fearing the consequences of my sins.

When I was walking more in fear of my consequences, I would confess quite regularly, but my motivations were fear-based.  I was “obeying” to the extent that I wanted to avoid the consequences and was terrified of them.

When I wrongfully fear my consequences, what am I in essence believing?

I am believing that I have gone too far or made too big of a mistake for God to redeem them.

The truth is so long a I am truly repentant and have submitted my new set of circumstances to God, He can redeem even them.

The fear of consequences motivates the more “fleshly-minded” Christian.  The “spiritual” or God-filled man is motivated by relationship — his/her relationship with God.

When I fear my consequences more than I fear God, my consequences themselves can become a “god” in my life.  They can become “larger” than God in my heart.  This becomes obvious when the fear of my consequences leads me to fear them more than believing God is in control of them.

When I truly repent and submit myself to God, He can redeem even the most horrific consequences and use them to bring good.  (See Rom. 8:28.)

Nothing is beyond the reach of God.

God is not mastered by anyone or anything.  Satan nor us can “put one over” on God.

He is Sovereign!