Sunday, May 23, 2010

Relationship With God

Last week, I had the honor of having words at my church during our night time service. I thought that I would share my notes.

The point of Christianity is not religion.  I would define “Religion” as defined as a set of behaviors and rituals practiced habitually with the usual purpose of touching, communing, or even to gain control over the unseen world that we all instinctively know exist – whether we choose to consciously accept it or not. There is a hole – an emptiness – in the heart and mind of every single human being. We spend our lives attempting to fill it. Some choose to fill it by practicing a “Religion”. This is a hole that can only be filled by God. “Christianity” is not like other religions. It’s not about doing stuff and not doing other stuff in attempts to be worthy of God’s notice. Christianity is about building and growing a relationship with God. We could not reach out to God on our own and God, through the person and work of Jesus Christ came and filled the  between us and Him. It’s through Jesus Christ that we can be friends of God. The Bible is full of examples of men and women who had a relationship with God. It is through them we can see how God deepens our relationship with Him.  Let us just pick a few Biblical personages. In other words, let us spend a few minutes looking at friends of God.
1.       Abraham
2.       Moses
3.       David
I could go over quite a few other examples, but for now in the interest of time we can just look at the Old Testament. We have it much easier than any of the men and women of the Bible Times. We have the hindsight of their lives and the Holy Spirit empowering us – given us access to God that was not really open to those who lived before Jesus came.
Just like our relationship with people, we can loose sight of what is important with our relationship with God. No one wants to be in a relationship with someone who cares more about what you can do for them than they care about you. That is not what a friend is.  We must keep the old saying that we must seek God’s face not his hands. The things is we have gotten so bold and feeling entitled that we try to get into God’s pockets not just his hands. The people I want to focus on tonight did not live that way.  Let’s quickly look at some scriptures that show this point.
 10 Glory in his holy name;
       let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

 11 Look to the LORD and his strength;
       seek his face always.

 12 Remember the wonders he has done,
       his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,

1 Chronicles 16:10-12
 14If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14
12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity.  I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile." – Jeremiah 29:12-14
And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. – James 2:23
16Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
 18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." 19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah's womb was also dead. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness."
 Abraham believed God that God would fulfill His promise to build a lasting nation through Isaac that when God told Him to sacrifice that very son that was promised, Abraham was willing to go through with it.  – Romans 4:16-22
If you want to be God’s friend you should emulate Abraham, in this way.
10 Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to his tent. 11 The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
 12 Moses said to the LORD, "You have been telling me, 'Lead these people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, 'I know you by name and you have found favor with me.' 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people."
 14 The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."
 15 Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?" – Exodus 33:10-16
Moses is said to be a friend of God…but we notice it’s not an equal relationship. Moses recognizes that God is not on his level and treats God as such. God finds favors with us and that frees us to be His friends.
14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD's command." – 1 Samuel 13:14
After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.' – Act 13:22
 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
       and renew a steadfast spirit within me. – Psalm 51:10
This verse is one of the verses that I believe tell us the most about how serious David was about His relationship with God. The word translated “Create” is the same Hebrew word “bara” used in Genesis 1:1 where it says that God “created” the heavens and the earth. The word carries with it the idea of calling something into existence that did not exist! Think about it! God called all that exists out of nothing! David is not just asking God to clean him up…to arrange the stuff that is in him that is already there.  He is asking for God to do much more than that. He wants God to put that pure heart in him!  That is what it takes to be God’s friend.
 36"For when David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.  -Acts 13:36
What better epitaph could you have for your life as a friend of God? We can see through the lives of these three men that God not only wants our friendship He has given us everything we need to do it…just like He did for Abraham, Moses, and David. We see that God reached out to them. They did not reach out for Him on their own. If you are not God’s friend tonight, God is inviting you to become his friend. If you are already saved then God is inviting you to deepen your relationship with Him. Today is the day. We should not let any opportunity to deepen our relationship with God.  I mean Isn’t that what friends are for?
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