You And God, part 2

YOU AND GOD

a brief series – Part 2

In The Gospel of John –

Jesus said the time is near when “the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father seeks such to worship Him,” (John 4:23) and God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that we might have “the right to become children of God,” (John 3:16; 1:12).

This is something about God the Bible conveys to us over and over – that God seeks a personal relationship with each one of us. He loves, He cares, He seeks, He calls us through the gospel.

This is expressed by James in James 4:8 – “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

That’s what the Creator wants.

He wants us to come to Him through Christ, and He says, “I will draw near to you.” Galatians 4:9 speaks of being “known by God.”

It may remind you of that song, “Nearer, my God, to Thee.” And please note – this is not just about some emotional feeling that tugs at you periodically. This relationship you can have with God through Christ involves conviction, hope, priorities, prohibitions, participation and your overall submission to Bible authority.

The nearness of this great resplendent God is one of the astonishing revelations of the Bible. Moses fairly exults in it—“For what great nation is there, that has a god so near to them as the Lord our God is whenever we call upon him?” (Deuteronomy 4:7). The Psalms also take up the theme: “The Lord is near to them that are of a broken heart, and saves such as are of a contrite spirit” (34:18). “You are near, O Lord; and all your commandments are truth” (119:161). [Paul Earnhart].

Tomorrow, “You Need God.”

A series – YOU AND GOD, #1

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Adapted From the book CHRISTIANITY IN 12 WORDS,

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Over the next several days, I’m publishing a brief series called YOU AND GOD. This is adapted from the published work of Expository Files, CHRISTIANITY IN 12 WORDS.

YOU AND GOD

a brief series

by Warren Berkley

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” – James 4:8

God seeks a personal relationship with every single person! By that I mean – not just God knowing who you are, but God knowing you as His child like a parent knows his or her children.

When I speak of God wanting to know us, please – let’s be clear. It is not about a little dot on a globe. It is not like your name in a database. It is not that you are in a group that He is acquainted with. This is about God knowing you personally and knowing you as His child!

The Bible clearly teaches, God wants that! What an amazing thought I want us to ponder soberly. It is written that God wants to know you, as His child.

In Genesis –

God’s interests in His creatures is declared on the opening pages of the Bible.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:26,27

This declaration is never said of plants and animals. And to this add, that the Lord God formed man from the dust and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living creature (Genesis 2:7-9), likewise never said of plants or animals. And in Genesis 2:18, the Creator saw that Adam was alone and needed suitable companionship. God cared about that. God said, “…a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh,” (Genesis 2:24). Special care of His human creatures evidenced again.

As the human race grew out of the garden and people filled the earth, God knew each one and cared for the welfare of His human creatures. He wanted the people He made to come to Him, serve Him and walk with Him.

God gave attention and care toward human beings, far different from His treatment of plants and animals. He gave Adam and Eve a special, perfect place to live. He put them in the garden and provided for them abundantly, having a relationship with both.

And for a time Adam and Eve knew God in a close, personal way experiencing the joy of knowing their Creator. God spoke to them and they listened. God gave them what they needed, and they received from His grace. They enjoyed His presence, His Help and His fellowship. But that relationship changed when they broke away from Him through their disobedience.

When Adam and Eve sinned – it is apparent in Genesis 3, that God was displeased. And, that their sin disrupted their relationship with God is obvious. Serious consequences came. But while there was justice and penalty, there was grace and care and no interruption in God’s love for them or His interest in their obedience. He wanted them to repent and come back. God spoke to them about their sin, and He wanted them to return to Him.

Further into Genesis and the theme is repeated, that God seeks a personal relationship with every human being. When Cain killed Abel, God said, “What have you done?” In the case of Enoch and Noah, God was pleased to have people walking with Him. God sought to be a friend to Abraham. Later in Genesis – concerning Joseph – the Bible says the Lord was with him.

What do you think we should learn from this history in Genesis? Isn’t it plain: God seeks a personal relationship with people. Enoch walked with God. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. God cares; care that can be called perfect grace.

We were never meant to be without God in our lives. You are not like just another rock, or a limb on a tree. You are more than just that speck on the globe or that member of a large group. You are a person made in the image of God. He knows you! Do you know Him?

He wants you as His child under His care – and there is no higher or better care than to live as a child of God, reflecting His glory and grace. He wants that! Just as children need parents – YOU need God.

God would not create you in His own image, then treat you like one of a group of plants or animals. He wants you to come to Him. Why else would He conceive and reveal a plan of salvation? Next, to the gospel of John.

Worldliness

When we attend to this world, care for it’s cares, love it, please it and serve it, we become, not simply woefully misguided, but slaves to the world. Lutzer was right when he said: “Worldliness is excluding God from our lives and, therefore, consciously or unconsciously accepting the values of a man-centered society.” And, “Worldliness is not only doing what is forbidden but also wishing it were possible to do it. One of its distinctives is mental slavery to illegitimate pleasure.”

(How In This World To Be Holy, by Edwin Lutzer, 1985).

Success

From a biblical view, success has more to do with who you are becoming than with what you have accomplished. In our culture, we typically tie success to finances and accomplishments. God, however, connects success to obedience and character.

God is more focused on us growing in Christ-likeness and using our gifts and talents effectively for His purposes.

Source

Wisdom Speaks: Life Lessons from Proverbs

Tim Riordan

Spiritually Healthy Reactions

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Spiritually Healthy Reactions Bring Hope

Warren E. Berkley

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trails, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” (1 Pet. 1:6,7). “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God,” (1 Pet. 1:20,21).

The Christians Peter addressed were “grieved by various trials.” We take this to be a specific reference to the persecution they suffered (see 3:17), but here’s the fact: Christians suffered and the causes varied (see Jas. 1:2).

When people become Christians, God doesn’t transport them into a perfect little bubble where nothing unpleasant ever happens again. While this idea is popular and desirable, it just isn’t true. Read about the people who spread the gospel in the book of Acts. They were very good people who suffered some very bad treatment. Study the life of Paul. No perfect bubble. Then consider all the teachings of the New Testament telling Christians how to think of suffering and how to respond to it (Rom. 5:2-5; Jas. 1:2-4, etc.). The fact is, some very harsh realities (often without explanation of origin) hit very good people.

As soon as we discover we are suffering, we must quickly turn our focus to spiritually healthy reactions. Training in faith and character we receive early in life or early in our journey as Christians should put us in position to resist the typical reactions of depression, bitter complaining, lashing out at people and walking away from God.

The same training that enables us to resist unwise reactions should prompt us to become well engaged in spiritually healthy reactions: prayer, contact with good people, reflection on relevant passages of Scripture and activity that (to the best of our ability and knowledge) addresses the problem. Participation in these good reactions is not wasted energy. Learning to suffer is not about finding answers, it is about finding hope when you don’t have answers.