Relationship 4

Micah 6:8

At the beginning of my teaching career I taught at a school for pregnant teens. The school was geared toward their special needs and was set up to facilitate health and learning together, without the demands of regular school and without the stigma that comes with teen pregnancy.

When many of the girls first arrived they brought some emotional baggage and often were belligerent in their behavior. They were dealing with a lot of emotional stress and expected to face many confrontations. But they found instead a welcoming environment. In a very short time they blended in and went with the comfortable flow of the unique school.

Working with our faith may be an intimidating and frightening process to some. We may wonder how we can relate to our Lord and how we can possibly be good enough to be called children of God. But Micah has a few words about a relationship with God. What has God shown us? What does God require?

A pastor friend shared his conversion experience and told about how confused he was at first. He initially believed that being a child of God could not be that easy. Surely something hard to accomplish was expected for him to have a relationship with God.

But soon he discovered that it was as simple as Micah points out. God has given us good things. He has lavished His love on us and surrounded us with blessings.

What does God want from us? Nothing more than to be humble, to think more highly of others than you do of yourself. He wants us to desire justice and to live a life that provides that fairness and equality.

God wants us to have mercy in our hearts, to value compassion and forgiveness, to avoid hatred and revenge. We should be willing to be as loving as God has been to us and to share that love with others.

This is a relationship with the Lord. We must shed our human desires and behaviors and begin to adopt the attitudes of Jesus. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly with your God. The word used is “with.” We are invited to be a partner, a companion, a friend to God in our living.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What does it take to walk humbly with your God?

Relationship 3

John 14:6-7

New relationships can be exciting and interesting. It is fun to learn new things about someone, the new information being discovered sometimes with pleasant surprises. But it is also good to have more mature relationships. These can be comfortable and reassuring because of the familiarity. They know us and we know them and there is comfort in that.

Talking to the disciples about what will happen to him Jesus reveals some information to them. What three things describe Jesus? How do we reach the Father? How can we get to know the Father? What assurance is given?

Most of us have read this passage before. It is one rather familiar to Christians. It is a great description of who Jesus is and speaks to the necessity of accepting Jesus as our Savior.

But often hearing it can be intimidating. The comments might even cause fear. Jesus has presented himself as the narrow gate we must enter to receive the rich blessings of God. The fear comes from focusing on the narrowness of the gate. Jesus is the only way.

What we should focus on is the fact that Jesus is the gate. There is an opening. There is a way to reach the Almighty God. We can know the father by learning about who Jesus is.

Once we have seen the Son we have seen the Father. Once we have experienced the love and grace of Jesus Christ then we have experienced the love and grace of God.

God is not an inaccessible being. He is not a distant deity that stands remote from humanity. We can learn about Him, become familiar with Him, and become comfortable with Him by establishing a relationship with Jesus.

And when we have established a relationship with Jesus we receive the comfort of truly knowing our God.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you get to know Jesus?

Relationship 2

John 14:23

During one holiday visit to family several years ago a backed up toilet caused us to make a change in plans. Rather than stay with relatives we called our friends and asked if we could spend the night. Even though we were unexpected our friends were welcoming and opened their house to us.

It was more than the fact that they had a spare bedroom. It was more than the fact that they had sufficient space that we could all find someplace to sleep. It was because we had a relationship, a connection, that made us welcome in their home.

In John’s account of the Last Supper Jesus gives some final teaching to his disciples. What does Jesus say about how we should love him? If we love Jesus, how will God, the Father, respond?

It’s a simple matter to call yourself a “Christian” and claim you believe in Jesus. It is a simple matter to attend worship several times a month. But all of these are just superficial and external signs of who we are supposed to be.

We can be the most devoted person when it comes to church attendance. We can be the biggest giver at our church. We can carry the biggest Bible and have a fish magnet on the back of our car. But if we do not have a real relationship with the Lord it is all for show.

What does it mean to have a relationship with the Lord? Just as Jesus says, it begins by obeying the teachings of Jesus. And these are not the easiest teachings to follow. We have to love everyone, even our enemies, as much as we love ourselves. We must be willing to give up our own pleasures and desires so that others, even people we don’t like, have what they need.

Once all of this becomes a part of who we are then we will truly experience the love that God has for us. And then the relationship will grow stronger and deeper. God will come and make His home in our hearts.

That is a true relationship with the Lord, showing God’s love and having God become part of how you think and feel and act. A true relationship with Jesus involves allowing Christ and our heavenly Father to come make a home in your heart.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you invite God to make a home in your heart?

Relationship 1

Luke 10:41-42

When I go to the church office to get work done I usually have a thousand things on my mind. As I unlock the office door and start the computer I am often distracted by the blinking message light on the answering machine. Sometimes I have spotted something in the Sanctuary or on my desk that needs attention. Before you know it I am caught up in all the busy work of being a pastor.

But what I need to do before anything else is to sit down and pray. If I am going to get anything done properly and do it for God I must first connect with the Lord and get myself on the right track.

Today’s passage is from the story of Jesus visiting Mary and Martha, two friends of his. While there Martha worked around the house while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and had a conversation. Eventually Martha complained to Jesus, urging him to ask Mary to help in the housework.

How does Jesus respond when Martha complains? Who has chosen best? What is the “one thing” that is needed?

Poor Martha has been looked down upon as a fool for all these many years, but we might assume that the work she was doing was important. Luke simply says it was “preparations that had to be made.” The words imply the work was necessary.

And although Martha was distracted by the work she was the one who opened her home to Jesus. She was the one who brought him in.

The intention of visiting with Jesus may have been genuine and the work Martha did may have been important, but she missed out on a primary part of the whole situation. She was failing to establish a relationship with Jesus, to understand him better and to spend some time with him.

We too can get distracted by what we want to do. The work may be good work and important work. It may be necessary that we do what is there before us. The things that fill our lives might even be work for our church. But what we cannot miss out on is a relationship with Jesus. We must allow ourselves the time to truly encounter Jesus and have a deeper comprehension of who he is.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What will it take for you to sit at the Lord’s feet and listen?