Monday, December 14, 2009

The Value of a Personal Relationship

My last post we looked at the purpose for life that Jesus gives us when we decide to follow him. Today let’s look a little further and see just how personal God can be. If there was anything that stood out about our disciple Andrew, it was that he knew the value of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

John 6:8-9 - One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him. "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?"

John 12:21-22 - Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him saying, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.

In both of these encounters, Andrew does what? He brings the matter and the person to Jesus. He knew what they needed was Jesus himself. Andrew knew better than anyone the solution to life’s dilemmas, it was in approaching Jesus.

It was not in Andrews hands to change circumstances, but he knew that if he brought them to Jesus, they would hear the truth and their problems would be solved through their belief in Him. Andrew brought people to the savior so they could meet Him for themselves. He knew the answers all lay in developing a relationship with God. The same applies today for us.

Personal relationship? How is it possible for us to have a personal relationship with Jesus when He is no longer on this earth? The disciples had a personal relationship with Jesus while they were with Him here on earth, but what about now? How does that work now when we can’t see Him with our eyes?

Some people are a bit skeptical when you start talking about Christ living inside you and having a daily relationship with Him. From the point of view of some, Jesus is dead and gone. So how can he live in us and guide us?

Jesus did die on the cross and was buried, but He is far from dead. We see clearly in John 20 that He rose from the grave on the third day. He is now in heaven but he promised to leave us something when He left.

Acts 1:4-5 - And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

Acts 1:8 - "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

They, like us were promised the Holy Spirit. It would come upon them and fill them, giving them power to be witnesses. When we choose to follow Jesus we are given the Holy Spirit to live within us. This is the Spirit Jesus is speaking of. It is through the Spirit that we are guided and are able to maintain a personal relationship with God even though we can not see Him with our eyes.

Acts 2:1-4 - When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

It was Pentecost, a holy day of rememberance and a day these believers would never forget. The sound came from heaven. Imagine that... your sitting there and a power so forceful that it sounded like rushing wind comes down from heaven and fills the whole house. Picture that in your mind.

Then divided tongues that look like fire sit on you and you begin to speak in a language you have never spoken before. Not a heavenly language but a foreign language. If you read on in Acts 2:5-12, you see the reaction of everyone around that heard them. The multitude came together and each one heard in his own language. They were all amazed and perplexed. Well, I imagine so! I would be amazed and perplexed if that happened right before my eyes.

What do you think, do you believe the Holy Spirit has power?

When we choose to follow Jesus Christ, accepting Him as our Savior, we are filled with that same Spirit described here. Although, you may not speak in foreign tongues, the power contained in the Holy Spirit lives within you. It empowers us to live a life for Jesus Christ, but only if we are yielded to it. Here in lies the value of personal relationship.

We are required to be in daily relationship through prayer and reading of the word of God. The Word of God is living and breathing. The Holy Spirit uses it to communicate the will of the Father God to us. Prayer is communication, a two way conversation between you and God. These things are the way we keep our personal relationship with God alive and growing.

Let me give you a little wisdom from my own personal experience. After re-committing my life to Christ, I struggled with my thinking. It seemed like everything I thought, was wrong. I began to feel like, if I just did the opposite of what I thought, it would probably be what God wanted.

Soon after, I began to be convicted about my time I spent with Christ. I would read my bible here and there but not consistently. When I did read my bible, it was as if I was checking it off a list when I was done. I found no enjoyment in it. It was a duty not an enjoyment to me.

Prayer also was difficult. I would cursory thank Him for saving me and then move on to my list of wants. When I was finished telling Him what I wanted Him to do, the prayer was over. Task complete, on with the day.

As conviction set in, I knew that I should do more than this. I knew that God required more from me but my heart wasn’t in it. I had no love in my heart for His Word and frankly, I wasn’t sure that I really loved Him. At least not like I was suppose to.

Mark 12:30 - And you shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, with all your soul, with all you mind and with all your strength.

I began to ponder on this verse. Did I love God with all my heart and soul? What about my mind and strength? Did I really love God like that?

The answer was no, not with ALL my heart and soul. If I did, I would love to spend time with Him in his word and prayer. My mind was not filled with loving Him and I certainly didn’t use all my strength to love Him. I instead was filled with ME. My ways filled my heart, soul, mind and strength.

I needed this to change but how do you draw closer in relationship with God? How do you change your heart?

The answer is, you don’t. He does.

I began to ask for Him to build that love in me. Then I did what He asked even when I didn’t feel like it. I set a time to read His word and pray.

Soon after, words, His words would leap off the page as I read. He was showing me who He was and in the process I fell hard. Deeper, deeper still I fell as I read and prayed to Him. A love was building in me for Him. A love that I did not create but that I would die for now. Oh, how I love Him now. With a love that would move mountains to be with Him.

When you take the time to get to know Him, He will show you personally how much you mean to Him. It will rock your world and you will never be the same again.

What better time to end in prayer….

I don't know where your heart is, but if it's like mine was, now is as good as time as any to ask for a change.

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