Tag Archives: relationship with Jesus

Personal Encounter

As I was reading John 20 this morning, I was reminded of the personal relationship I have with Jesus. I was reminded that each of us have a different relationship (or absence thereof) when it comes to Jesus. It all comes down to how we engage with God’s Word and with our Savior. Remember in John 20:20, we find Jesus appears to His disciples and He shows them His hands and side. He shows them His hands and His side. Later Thomas, or Doubting Thomas as many call him, returned. He missed the grand arrival of Jesus, and though the others noted that He came, Thomas would not believe. He said, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand in His side, I will not believe” (v. 25 NIV). Thomas desired a personal encounter.

Jesus appears later, this time Thomas was with the others. The Bible says that even though the doors were locked, Jesus came in. He said, “Peace be with you!” Then He directs Himself to Thomas. He says, “Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe” (v. 27 NIV). Immediately Thomas responds – “My Lord and my God!” Thomas had a personal encounter with Jesus.

We are often hard on Thomas. Yes, he demanded to have this personal moment with Jesus. He demanded to see Him, to touch the nail marks. He desired to look upon the One Who once bled for Him. He desired to reach his hands out and put his finger where the nails once were. He needed to have this personal encounter. Yes, he doubted. Yes, he needed some evidence. Most of all, He needed to encounter the risen Jesus Christ. He needed it to be personal. Remember, once this happened he immediately exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” Today, seek out that personal encounter with Jesus. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a new way. As you reach out and grasp a hold of Jesus, may you exclaim, “My Lord and my God!”

 

Search Inward

Many of us are celebrating the Lenten season. It is a season of fasting and renewal, a season that reminds us that we are but dust. Life is fragile. Life is but a breath. It is a season that looks to the Cross. We spend these weeks mindful of the shortness of life, but even more mindful of the One Who poured out His blood at Calvary so that we could have new life—life in Him. As Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the Wilderness, so we spend this time in self-reflection, repentance, and prayer.

Some people are trying to stick diligently to the removal of some item from their life. Some people may have even publicly noted an ongoing battle with trying to stay true to a vow to give up this thing for Lent. It is important to remember some things about Lent and fasting, because many get lost on the journey to the Cross. Lent instructions are not found in the Bible—it’s something that was instituted by the Church. However, with the fasting, one should be mindful that publicly boasting or grumbling is not applauded (see Matthew 6:16). Fasting is personal. The idea of fasting during Lent is to remove something that is getting in the way of your relationship with Jesus, and then replace that thing with something that will bring you closer to Jesus Christ.

Remember, Lent is all about Jesus. If you are keeping yourself from drinking soda or eating sweets but that doesn’t interfere with your relationship with Jesus, and you have not supplemented these things with more time in prayer, reading God’s Word, or spending time doing something that brings you closer to Jesus, then you are missing out. This is a time to search inward, a time to repent and renew yourself in Him. Today, whether or not you celebrate the Lenten season, take time to look inward. What is getting in the way of your relationship with Jesus? What has become a stumbling block? Pray for the removal of this from your life. Pray for a closer relationship with Jesus. Seek Him diligently today. Pray for your heart to open and spend time in the Word. Ask Him to speak to you in a new and awesome way.

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1 [ESV]

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for You, O God.” – Psalm 42:1 [ESV]

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” – Hebrews 12:1-2 [NLT]

No One

We often like to think the best of ourselves. We do not realize how corrupt our heart is, so it difficult to take a good hard look at ourselves and see the truth. In Jeremiah 17:9, we read, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Deceitful. The MOST deceitful of all things. Desperately wicked—so wicked we cannot say how bad.

Today’s verse says that no one does good. That means that even you do not do good. You are part of the “not a single one.” That is hard to handle. We find it hard to come to terms with the fact that we are not good—that we are corrupt. The truth is, no matter how many good things we do, we have bad things that we think and do—things we do not even realize. But God can see through every crack and crevice. He sees the corruption. He sees the deceitfulness. He sees the wickedness from within us.

The awesome good news is that He loves us anyway, and He has made a way for us to be in right relationship with Him. Despite the corruption, despite not doing good—He has made a way for us to come before Him, covered in the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. We are clothed in His righteousness, made right with God through Him. Today, thank God for His great mercy and His unfailing love. Seek His righteousness above all else. Remember, no one does good—not a single one.

“But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one!” – Psalm 53:3 [NLT]

Too Numerous to List

Our God is an awesome God. He has no equal. He has performed many wonders. We cannot recite all that He has done. Nor can we list the plans that He has for us. The “plans for us are too numerous to list.”

Often we get caught up in our own plans. We try to plan out our life to live a purposeful life. Yet we don’t even know what life is about or the purpose for our life. God has beautifully orchestrated everything, including our lives. He has plans for you and I, plans that are too numerous to list. We need to question if we are following God’s will, and if our plans are actually God’s plans for our lives. What list are you living?

Never think that no one cares for you. There are people who care for you. More importantly, the God of the universe cares for you. He cares so much that He has plans for you that are “too numerous to list.” Your life has a purpose. This purpose you can find as you walk with God, as you have an intimate relationship with Him. He will reveal Himself to you, and you will know Him more and know yourself more. This will help you to catch a glimpse of some of these plans that are too many to list.

It is because of Jesus Christ and His great sacrifice that you can press forward in Him and live this life, knowing God and serving Him. Today, thank Him for His perfect sacrifice and ask that God will reveal Himself to you in a new and fresh way.

“O LORD my God, You have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all Your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.” – Psalm 40:5 [NLT]

Taste for Yourself

I love the sense of taste. I will admit that I like food. When I have the time, I love to experiment in the kitchen with different foods. You never know if you like something unless you taste it. I’ve told my children about this numerous times. You must first taste it. I used to make them take a bit of anything new that I tried. If they didn’t like whatever I had made, just so long as they took the bite and tried the new concoction.

When the Psalmist says, “Taste and see that the LORD is good,” it reminds me of this kitchen taste test moment. You cannot taste a fork full of turkey stroganoff for someone else. When you take a bite to taste something, you are using your own mouth. It is your own taste buds that are sensing whatever you have placed in your mouth. It is your own brain that is receiving messages to let you know if you like something or do not like something.

So what does it mean to taste and see that the Lord is good? The Message translates this as, “Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is. Blessed are you who run to Him.” This verse invites us to spend time with God, to look at God—seriously look to Him. Experience Him. Walk in faith, giving Him the opportunity to show you Who He is. Understand that no one else can taste for you. Just like with food, you have to be the taste tester when it comes to tasting the Lord. No one else can help you get saved. Your relationship with God is just the two of you. Today, taste and see that the LORD is good.

“Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him!” – Psalm 34:8 [NLT]

Care Nothing

In Psalm 28:5, we read about a people who care nothing for what God has done or for what God has made. Consider this for a moment. The person cares nothing for what the Lord has done. The person cares nothing for what God’s hands have made. In this verse we read about 1) acknowledging God – Who He is and what He has done, and 2) caring for what God has made.

The people did not care about God, about what He made, about what He did. They lacked adoration for God. They lacked compassion for His Creation. This includes lacking compassion for people. These people were doing the opposite of what Jesus says is most important: Love God, love people.

“Care nothing” can be seen as disregard or lack of consideration. The Message translates this as the people having “no idea how God works or what He is up to.” It all points back to acknowledging the Lord and desiring a relationship with Him, wanting to know Him more. As you have this regard for Him, as you grow in your relationship with Him, you will grow in your love for the things He loves. You will care for what He has done and for what His hands have made.

“They care nothing for what the LORD has done or for what His hands have made. So He will tear them down, and they will never be rebuilt!” – Psalm 28:5 [NLT]

Come and Talk

Come and talk with me. We hear this often from friends and family. Since I can remember, I have heard this invitation. I love a nice chat. It’s nice that someone wants to spend time with you and just talk. The Psalmist is referencing this invitation that God gives to each of us: “Come and talk with Me.” Yes, the God of the universe wants to talk with you. God Almighty, wants to talk with you.

This invitation from God is a 24/7 invitation. It’s not like the invitations we get from friends and family. You know how life gets everyone busy and you have that moment of panic. You try to get in touch with your closest friend. Your friend is at work with a phone on silent. Maybe you have something on your mind and you cannot sleep. It’s 2am. It would not be so kind to call at that hour. But God doesn’t say, “I’m busy.” He doesn’t have a time when He is unable or unwilling to listen to you.

Today, He extends this invitation to you. “Come and talk with Me.” You have a choice. You can make time. You can answer the invitation. You do not even have to set out a specific time or schedule an appointment. You can speak with Him all day, through the day. Are you saying, “LORD, I am coming” in response to His invitation?

“My heart has heard You say, ‘Come and talk with Me.’ And my heart responds, ‘LORD, I am coming.’” – Psalm 27:8 [NLT]

Right Relationship

The Psalmist speaks about the people with pure hearts, who never worship idols, and never lie. Those people are the blessed ones, the ones with a right relationship with God. When you read this and think about how everyone falls short of the glory of God, it is difficult to swallow. Our hearts aren’t pure. We each have a degree of evil in our hearts. Thought we do not like to admit it, we will often worship something or someone. That’s idolatry. Lies? They usually leave our lips from time to time.

When we consider a “right relationship” with God, we must remember that Jesus Christ came, was crucified, and rose from the grave, so that we could have a right relationship with God. The only way for a right relationship was for Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for all of sin. Because of His sacrifice, we are able to have a right relationship with God through faith alone in Him.

Today, consider where you are at with your relationship status. Do not be living like the veil is still blocking you from a holy God. The veil has been torn. The debt has been paid. Live with the freedom Christ has given you. The greatest relationship is a relationship with Jesus Christ.

“Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior.” – Psalm 24:4-5 [NLT]

Work on You

This past week, I have had to give my son a bit more attention than usual. He’s a teenager so he doesn’t usually need so much hands on time for his care. Our time spent together is more talking and chilling. I enjoy those moments, though I occasionally miss the baby days. I cherish these days, watching him grow into a young man, excited to see what God will do next in his life. When he got his wisdom teeth out, I knew following the surgery would be a regression that meant mom would have to step up more.

While I was working from home and checking on him every few hours, making sure he was following the doctor’s orders, etc., I was doing more than I am accustomed to at this stage of my life. I must have run up the stairs a hundred times the first few days. A few days ago, I found myself starting to have sinus issues. My allergies got out of control and I was so busy taking care of my son, that I neglected to address what was happening to me. We do that often as parents. Then we end up with a persistent cough, a lack of energy, and eyes that keep trying to close through the day. Yes, when the oxygen masks fall on the airplane, we are supposed to put our own on first. That’s the only way we can help others on the plane. The jest of the lesson is to care for ourselves first so we can care for others. Now, don’t get all proud and be all you, you, you.

The Bible wants us to care for others. The greatest commandments are to love God and to love others. The Bible also tells us to look out for the best interests of others. I could go on and on. But the Bible also tells us to share our hope, to share what we have learned, to teach our children, to feed the needy, to clothe the naked, to tell the nations, etc. This means we need to take the steps, to be intentional with our spiritual well-being and our spiritual growth. We must always be aware of where we are at spiritually, and always be taking care of those spiritual needs. This includes things like prayer, Bible reading and study, time of rest, mentorship, church participation, service, etc. If we don’t address ourselves and our own needs, we cannot do what God has called us to do in reaching others, influencing others, caring for others, teaching others, etc. Look at your spiritual well-being today. How are you doing?

“My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.” – Proverbs 4:20-22 [NLT]

 

Strong Vines

As I was trying to prepare the flower beds for Fall, I made yet another attempt to tear out the vines that are planted in many areas of my yard. These vines drive me crazy every time I take the effort to remove them. If you are not familiar with vines, you do not understand the nuisance it is to remove them. You begin to pull some of the vine, but soon realize you are not close to the root. Instead, you are pulling different strands of new growth, connected to other growth. It’s hard to even pull anything out because everything grows connected and is bound together underground, connected with the strong root. The root system keeps me from ever getting rid of the vines.

Imagine now how Jesus speaks of our need to abide in Him. He promises if we abide in Him, He will abide in us (John 15:4). He is our strong root system, our foundation. Paul wrote that we should let our “roots grow down into Him.” If we are rooted with Him, we are like those vines with the strong root, that is difficult to move. When we are rooted in Christ, our “faith will grow strong.” When we are rooted in Christ, we “overflow with thankfulness.”

Ask the Spirit to reveal to you your root system. If you are unsure if you are abiding in Him, consider how much time you devote to prayer, Bible reading and Bible study, and walking in the will of God. If these things sound foreign, or if these things are not of most importance on your list of priorities, it is time to start reviewing your list. Look at what you are trying to grow. Look at where you are investing yourself. Do you want to live a life growing with the strong vine, or are you trying to grow yourself to build yourself up? You’ll find that the little sprouts are easy to pull from the ground, very different from the strong rooted vines. Don’t live like a little sprout.

“Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:7 [NLT]