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We live in a fast-paced world in which social media, the internet and rapidly changing cultural values are placed front row, and center in our lives. It seems like everything that those in my baby boomer generation counted as stable is falling away. Some of that, to be honest, is a good thing. I’m beginning to realize the ‘simple life’ I grew up in was often a cover-up for an undercurrent of things that never should have happened.

The trade off, however isn’t always positive. With all the ‘advancements’ our society has made, one thing that seems to have been left behind is hope. HOPE. Such a simple word, yet so complex. Wars have been fought in the name of hope; lives have been destroyed in the search for hope.

Hope is elusive on the human plane. We seek it in relationships. We seek it through political and social action. We seek it, or at least try to escape it’s evil twin– hopelessness — through chemicals. We may even try it through religion. But none of that really satisfies. People fail. Government fails. Gaining rights for one group rapes other groups of their ‘rights’. Religion only offers surface comfort for the pain.

There is only one thing that offers total hope and that is Jesus. He’s not about rules and religion. He has no expectations for you to measure up to who he is. When we place our focus on who he is, and what he has done; when we realize the hopelessness of this world is temporary and a better world awaits us; when we realize the pain we suffer now is nothing compared to the joy we have in him, we also find that elusive thing we’ve sought for: HOPE.


And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15 (NIV)

Conflict is inevitable. You probably didn’t need to have someone tell you that! From the beginning of time conflict has been a part of human existence. It’s not ‘IF’ you will experience conflict but when you experience conflict and how you deal with it that matters.

Conflict is defined as, “The competitive or opposing action of incompatibles; an antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons).”

From a human perspective, conflict had its origins in the Garden of Eden. The first person to experience conflict was Eve. The serpent (Satan) not only questioned her regarding God’s commands, he brought conflict into her mind.  For perhaps the first time she was faced with opposing viewpoints. Up to this time we can only surmise that obedience (based on a passionate love relationship with her creator) was unquestioned. When you begin to question God, you leave room for conflict.

The next significant act of conflict wasn’t with God, but with fellow man. In an act of jealous rage, Cain killed his brother Abel. The rest is, as they say, history. Conflict, whether between men or men with God really has the same motivating force: the desire for peace within our soul. We may be led to believe the lie that the hunger for peace in our soul can be quenched by new relationships, new career paths or a bigger bank account. We may try to drown the pain of that hole by chemicals or religious experience, but until our hearts are right with God, nothing will work.

Now for the good news. Your heavenly Father wants to restore the lost relationship.  Colossians 1:19-20 states, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

What this means is that through Jesus Christ, God wants to restore the relationship we lost in the garden. Furthermore, Philippians 4:7 reminds us that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus Christ opens the path to a new, vibrant relationship with God. When that happens and we grow to completeness through Christ, his peace will guard our soul, our emotions, or feelings. It will work towards conquering the fear, worry, anger, hate and frustration of human conflict.

Will making our relationship with God cure our human conflicts? Unfortunately not. But having a right relationship with God opens the door to healthier relationships as we learn to lean on him and trust him with our hearts.

Let the peace of Jesus calm you as you grow in relationship to him. Daily give him control of your relationships so he can protect your soul from the attacks of conflict. May the following prayer empower you to peace in the midst of conflict.

PRAYER: Father God. I thank you for the restoration of a love relationship I can have with you through Jesus Christ. Empower me to rest on you in the midst of the human conflict I am facing. May the peace only Jesus can offer strengthen me. Amen.


To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the wicked you show yourself hostile. 2 Samuel 22:27 (NLT)

We were built for relationship. Our very heart, our very being revolves around how we perceive others feelings towards us, and how we feel about them. When centered on the emotional, relationships rarely focus on facts. It’s feelings that matter. When centered on facts alone, relationships become works centered. What you do to or for me means everything to the relationship. Motives don’t matter, actions do.

One day Jesus healed a man that was born blind and unable to speak. At the touch of his hand, Jesus restored his speech and gave him sight. The man praised God. The people stood amazed and praised God. The Pharisees however; the religious elite; the men who ‘knew the way to God’ better than anyone else, were not only skeptical, they were critical.

“He’s a tool of Satan”, they said. “This is nothing more than blasphemy”, the challenged. “God doesn’t work like this; God has no part in any of this atrocity!”

The gospel writer states “But Jesus knew their thoughts…” (Matthew 11:25)

It wasn’t the accusations that Jesus took issue with, it was their hearts because he knew that thoughts don’t originate on the external, they originate from the heart, from the soul, from the very being of man.

Why the different reaction between the religious establishment and the man who’d been healed? In a word: relationship. Religion is and always will be built on rules and actions. They saw Jesus as a threat to their power, a reason for concern because he would take away their power and status.

“Do this and that will happen; don’t do this or this will happen.”

Relationship heals. Relationship encourages. Relationship makes one better as they leave than they were when they came. The people, especially the blind man saw a different Jesus, a Jesus based on experience, on touch, on relationship.

The blind man knew his hopelessness and saw relief. The Pharisees never grasped the notion that they were sinners. The blind man saw freedom in his release from the bondage of his blindness. The Pharisees saw the healing as a direct confrontation to their power. The blind man saw hope; the Pharisees saw a menace.

The question each of us must ask ourselves is which Jesus do we see? Do we see a Jesus limited by rules and regulations; a Jesus steeped in liturgy and tradition? Or do we see a Jesus who longs to touch us, to heal us, to soothe the pain within our hearts?

Some have shaken their fists figuratively at Jesus because he didn’t meet their needs. They were looking for someone who would cater to their physical desires rather than the needs of the heart. They’ve tried filling the hole with other gods. The gods of relationship, passion, power or any other god of their own choosing. Others have chosen to fill the hole in their relationship by legislation. The more rules we have, the more restrictions we place on ourselves, the more religious we become, and the better we’ll be.

But only Jesus can fill that hole and he fills it with relationship, not rules. Those who follow after him, whose hearts are pure find in him a refuge. Those who refuse to come into relationship with him see him as a menace to their emptiness; a barrier to true freedom.

PRAYER: Father God, it’s so easy to put other gods in your place. Gods that will give me a false sense of holiness, a false feeling of stability. Purify my heart so that you are all that I see. Amen.


I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” Psalm 16:2

I try to pride myself on how my yard looks. I like green grass, neatly trimmed shrubs and weed less flower gardens. It involves hours of work, but when I look out over the lawn a certain amount of pride sets in.

That’s one reason why I cringed as I was loading the fertilizer spreader one day in my garage. “Can I help you put fertilizer on today Daddy? I’ll be careful” I heard my six year-old say.

Instantaneously my mind thought of all sorts of reasons why this wouldn’t work. She was too short to walk and hold the spreader…well, no she wasn’t.

It was a big yard and a hard job…but I knew she’d only want to help for a little while and short attention spans in this case are your friend. Minutes, not hours. A hard lesson I learned long ago. A few minutes of inconvenience makes a world of difference in the life of a little one.

I knew the real reason of course. She wouldn’t walk straight. Some areas may be missed, some would get extra fertilizer. It may not look as green and as uniform as I wanted it.

So while I wanted to hear myself say, “Not today honey.” I heard myself say, “Of course sweetheart. I’ll help you.”

She stayed at it longer than I’d hoped. She missed some spots. She walked in wavy lines, not straight. She didn’t do it at all the way I would…and smiled all the way.

The modern translations of Psalm 16:1 don’t give us an entirely clear picture of what is being said according to some scholars. It may be better translated something like this: “All my work, all the things I have, all my striving is really worthless compared to what you can do.

We often take our work too seriously. Especially those of us in ministry circles. We want to protect our ministry. We point at the growth of our church, readership, book sales, salvations, baptisms and a whole list of other things.

Of course we’d never admit it, but we hold all these things out to the Lord as if to say, ‘Look what I’ve done for you! Look at the amazing things I’ve done in your name! See me!’

Our Heavenly Father smiles and says, nice job my child. The rows aren’t straight. You god too much fertilizer over here, you missed some opportunities over there, He doesn’t really say that of course, but compared to the work He can do our efforts are really pretty small and insignificant.

Do the best you can. Rely on the God of Heaven to strengthen you for the task ahead. Grow deep in your relationship with Jesus. But remember this; all that really matters in life is our walk with him. That doesn’t mean our work for him is meaningless or insignificant. We just need to remember who we are working for and why. When we see positive results, rejoice. But when we struggle in our walk, remember Psalm 16:1.

Our ‘work for the Lord’ may fall short of our expectations, but if we rely on him, it NEVER falls short of his expectations.

PRAYER: Lord God. I confess to you that I want to do great and mighty things for you. I confess this because I also realize that sometimes I put the effort ahead of the reason, I see myself as being more important than I should. Help me by your Spirit to strive for excellence, but rely on you. Amen.


Those who believe in the Son have eternal life, but those who do not obey the Son will never have life. God’s anger stays on them.” John 3:36 (NCV)

“Ah, this is living.”

What would it take for you to say this? No bills? Lounging on the beach in Hawaii with no schedule, no responsibility and no sign of it coming to an end? Perhaps having a perfect spouse, three children in Medical School and a clean bill of health for you?

When we think of living, our first thoughts often turn to personal comfort and a bright prospectus for tomorrow. We all know people or have heard of people who have worked their entire lives preparing for retirement only to have something devastating happen to them just before or after they retire.

During the great depression hundreds of people jumped from buildings and bridges when the realized they’d ‘lost everything’. The real tragedy was in the lives of the women whose husbands didn’t come home or the children whose Daddies would never tuck them in again. Little boys were without their favorite person to play catch or shoot hoops. Little girls would never have ‘daddy’ to walk them down the aisle.

Jesus says (my paraphrase), “If you put your relationship with me in first place you will not only have the strength to make it through the battles of life here on earth, you will find that true living comes after you die! If on the other hand you put the things of earth (money, toys & pleasure) in first place, you will never experience life as I intended for you.”

Pursue the important things of life. The most important things in your life won’t show up in your checkbook, your garage or your family room. The will be etched on the very tablet of your heart. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve failed. It’s not important what you think you’ve lost here on earth. The important things like your faith in Christ and the power of his Spirit in your life are things no one can take from you.

Keeping your focus on what Christ has done for you makes all the other things less important. With Him as your guide, no matter what you are going through, you will be able to say that because of Jesus love, grace and forgiveness, “This is living!”

PRAYER: Jesus I confess to you that too much of my life is spent trying to make things work here on earth. I’ve neglected the important things like family, and most importantly my relationship with you. Empower me with your Spirit to build on the important things. I know in my heart that true living comes after I die. In your name, Amen.

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