Don’t take God for granted
God is so wonderful that he far surpasses any other lover, or anything else in existence. Of course, there can be no sexual aspect in your love affair with God, but your relationship can, and should be, far more intimate than would ever be possible between two humans. Here’s why:
Christ’s union with you is so intimate that, in a sense, you are actually part of his body (Ephesians 5:29-30).
But is all this just wishful thinking? No. In fact, the reason why the above seems so desirable to us is because we were, quite literally, made for this relationship. Our bodies are made in such a way that they can’t function properly without exercise. Similarly our minds and emotions are made by our Creator in such a manner that they require a personal relationship with their Maker in order to function properly.
The Bible teaches that a man and woman can become so united that they become ‘one flesh.’ But you can get even closer than this with God. You can become one spirit with God (1 Corinthians 6:16,17; Romans 6:5).
God is both physically and spiritually closer to us than any other person could ever get. Perhaps you have cuddled someone, desiring to get as physically close as possible and have found that although you are pressed tight against each other, as physically close as humanly possible, you want to be still closer. You would actually like to climb inside each other! But you are in God (Acts 17:28) and God is actually inside you (John 14:17,23; 1 Corinthians 6:19). So when you pray, you don’t have to pray to a God who is way out in Heaven somewhere. He is ‘closer than hands or feet.’
Communication is never a problem with your Maker because he knows your thoughts (Psalm 139:1-4). You can discuss things mentally with God without the burden of always having to formulate proper sentences, explaining yourself and using spoken words.
We often say, ‘I was just thinking to myself’. When we do this, God listens. But it’s exciting to remember this and to direct those thoughts (no matter how mundane) to God. Your Maker can also put thoughts and ideas into your mind. And because God’s union with you is so intimate, it’s often hard to distinguish between those thoughts that originate with him and those which are purely your own (Philippians 2:13). A vital test, which must be applied to all impressions you get, is whether they are consistent with the Bible. God never contradicts himself!
The Lord understands what you have experienced, even if no-one else does. Often it is almost impossible for our friends to fully understand significant events which we experienced when they were absent. But, though you may only be beginning to acknowledge God’s presence, he has constantly been with you from the moment you were conceived (Psalm 139:7). He knows you so intimately and completely that he always perfectly understands you. Furthermore, Jesus has personally experienced pain, rejection, loneliness, bereavement, disappointment, being misunderstood, and so. (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15).
With God, you need never have an argument. Arguments arise when people differ and both parties think they are right. Such a situation need never occur with the Lord of the Universe. If you disagree with him, you can know immediately who is wrong – you are! God is ‘perfect in knowledge’ (Job 37:16).
In human relationships, it’s often frustrating relating to a person who always seems to be right. However, it’s quite different with your loving God. For example, with him we don’t have to pretend that we are better than we really are. He thoroughly knows our every weakness and yet he still accepts us, when we come to him through Jesus Christ.
So agree with God. This means that you should never again confess inadequacy (Philippians 4:13), lack (Philippians 4:19), fear (2 Timothy 1:7), defeat (2 Corinthians 2:14), stupidity (1 Corinthians 1:30, etc.), because the Lord says that he has delivered you from all these things. If God says it, believe it!
At times, human friends may disappoint you, but your Lord will never let you down. He is fully dependable. He will never change. You can’t improve upon perfection! Nor will he ever grow old. The intensity of his love and devotion to you will never wane. In fifty year’s time he will still feel the same thrill when you share your heart with him in prayer.
There are many times when human friends can merely sympathize with us. They are unable to change the situation or meet our needs. But God never finds himself in that predicament! The King of Kings is completely adequate for every situation, no matter how hopeless it may appear. In your relationship with God, you don’t just have Someone who loves you more than is ever humanly possible, but Someone who is fully able to rescue you from each and every difficulty you could ever face. God doesn’t merely want to please you and do you good, he knows exactly how to do it!
In your divine love affair you have absolute security. You need never fear that he may become sick or be killed or leave you. And instead of your own death being a great tragedy and robbing you of this beautiful relationship, all that death can do is to bring you even closer to God!
Another wonderful thing about God is that he is constantly with you and always freely available. You need never be alone again! Whether you are having a shower, traveling to work, playing squash or sleeping, he’s always right beside you, smiling upon you, looking after you and eagerly waiting for you to start up a conversation with him.
Furthermore, you know that your relationship is doing you good. It is constantly making you a better person so that you are becoming of greater and greater value to this world. The greatest good you could possibly do for the whole of humanity is to be in the center of God’s will. The time you spend with God is never wasted. You’ll never regret serving God and what you do under his direction has eternal value.
With other friends, we may enjoy ourselves for a while but later regret the wasted time it caused. This will never occur in your relationship with your wonderful Lord.
We tend to become like our friends. Often, this is a sobering thought but when that friend is God, the possibilities are exciting.
So realize the uniqueness of your relationship with God and never fall into the trap of accepting substitutes or be bluffed into thinking the honeymoon is over!
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Enjoy your Lover’s wealth
Jesus tells the story of a farmer with two sons. The elder son remained faithful to his father and worked hard on the farm. His brother, however, demanded his share of the property, sold it, and left home. After wasting his life and his money, he finally saw the error of his ways and returned home, poverty-stricken.
He knew that he had wronged his father so much that he no longer deserves to be treated as a son. He is content simply to become one of his father’s hired hands.
But his father, with a great display of love and emotion, joyfully accepted him back as his son, lavished gifts upon him and threw a party to celebrate; killing the prize calf for food.
The older brother, however, was angry and felt his father had been grossly unfair. He had been a faithful son and worked long hours for practically nothing. His father hadn’t given him so much as a small goat, whereas the prize calf had been slaughtered for his no-good brother.
When the father learned of his eldest son’s resentment he said, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours‘ (Luke 15:11-32).
Do you see the older brother’s mistake? He imagined his father was stingy! This faithful son was living in virtual poverty because he failed to recognize the generosity of his father. Not just the calf, but all of the stock, land, buildings (everything!) were his to do whatever he wished. And he didn’t even realize it!
Jesus mentioned this faithful brother to illustrate the foolishness of not recognizing our loving God’s generosity. The following statement describes just one aspect of that generosity.
If you make everything that is yours (your time, abilities, possessions, and so) fully available to God, he will make everything that is his (his time, abilities, possessions, and so) fully available to you.
When I first discovered that everything that is God’s is available to us, it seemed too good to be true, and so I made a detailed Bible study on the subject. I would like to share with you some of the results of that study.
The principle is stated in general terms in a large number of different parts of the Bible. For example, in 1 Corinthians 3:21,23 we read, ‘All things belong to you . . . and you belong to Christ. (See also Song of Solomon. 2:16; John 16:15,23; Romans 8:32; Philippians 4:13; 2 Peter 1:3.)
The King of kings wants to give you all things! This discovery was just mind-boggling! I had to see for myself if ‘all things’ literally meant all things! (What else could it mean?)
I learned that a true Christian has Christ (2 John 9) and this includes his:
Knowledge – John 15:15; 16:13-15
Riches – Philippians 4:19
Glory – John l7:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:14
Throne in Heaven – Ephesians 2:6; Revelation 3:2l
Peace – John 14:27
Kingdom – James 2:5; Revelation 22:5; 2 Timothy 2:12
Joy – John 15:11
Moral purity – 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 1:30
Miracle-working power – John 14:12,13
Victory over Satan – Romans 16:20 (1 Corinthians 15:25)
Spirit – Romans 8:9
Mind – 1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5
Power over death – 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
Likeness – 1 Corinthians 15:49; 1 John 3:2
Inheritance – Romans 8:17
Life – Galatians 2:20; 1 John 5:12
Ministry – John 17:18 (John 8:12 cf Matthew 5:14)
Presence – John 14:23; Ephesians 3:17
Relationship with God – John 17:23,26; Galatians 4:6; Hebrews 2:11
And much more besides!
Truly, ‘in union with Christ, you have become rich in things ...’ (1 Corinthians 1:5)! Your potential is limitless (Philippians 4:l3). But you can still make the mistake the older brother made and fail to enjoy what is rightfully yours. You must receive God’s gifts.
You already understand the importance of actually receiving gifts from God. The beautiful gift of forgiveness was always available to you but it only became yours when you received it by faith. Similarly, there is now a huge range of gifts which God wants you to enjoy, but it’s up to you to accept each one of them by faith and start using them.
Once you have fully given yourself to your Lord, ask for one of his gifts (it’s probably best to concentrate on one at a time), receive it by faith, and then act as if you have it.
To receive, for example, Jesus’ joy (John 15:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16, etc.), ignore the way you feel and act joyful. As you continue in faith (ignoring those doubts which will come from time to time), you will gradually receive objective proof that your joy isn’t artificial or ‘psychological,’ but that it is indeed a supernatural gift from your Lover.
If someone gave you an expensive gift, it would be most ungrateful to leave it unwrapped and never use it. Well, God has given you many gifts at great personal cost. (It cost the death of his precious Son to make these wonderful things available to you.) So make sure that you accept, appreciate and use all his gifts. A friend may make the mistake of giving you something you have no use for, but your all-wise God would never do such a thing!
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Boast about him. There are many things that we shouldn’t boast about, but we should boast about our wonderful Lord (1 Corinthians 1:31). Be proud of him! With God, it’s hard to exaggerate!
Appreciate his gifts. When, for example, you see the beauty of a sunset, or a rose, or enjoy a tasty meal, or rest on a nice soft bed, recognize that these are precious gifts sent to you with love from your Creator.
Grumbling and complaining breaks God’s heart (Numbers 14:27- 29; Psalm 106:25-26; 1 Corinthians 10:10; Philippians 2:l4; James 5:9; Jude 15,16). The opposite is praise.
It is natural for lovers to spend much time praising each other’s beauty, abilities and qualities. (For example, see a book of the Bible called the Song of Solomon.) Similarly, it is natural for you to want to praise the God you love.
Praise is very powerful, for the following reasons:
Praise releases the glorious power of God into any situation.
It is commanded by God (Psalms 117:1; 150:6).
Jesus came to earth so that we might praise God (Romans 15:8-11).
It honors and glorifies your Lord (Psalm 50:23).
It is the proper way to enter God’s presence (Psalm 100:4).
It increases your faith (Romans 4:20).
It is a weapon that overcomes evil powers (Psalm 149:6-9; 2 Chronicles 20:21-22).
It’s God’s anti-depressant (Isaiah 61:3).
It empowers you to become God-centered, instead of self-centered (Psalm 115:1).
You should praise your Lord in the presence of non-Christians (Psalm 108:3), fellow believers (Psalm 149:1), and when alone (Psalm 63:5-6).
The Bible contains many encouraging examples of people who have praised their loving God in the midst of absolutely tragic circumstances (eg. 2 Samuel 12:19-20; Job 1:14-22; Jonah 2:1,9; Acts 16:23-25). We should thank and praise God at all times, regardless of how bleak things seem (Psalm 34:1; Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18).
You’ll praise your Lord forever, but when this world ends you’ll never again have the opportunity to praise God in unpleasant circumstances. So make the most of the opportunities that come your way! Praise in the midst of tragedy is particularly precious to your Divine Lover. Praising the Lord of creation in the midst of circumstances which would cause a lesser person to get angry with him, reveals the depth of your devotion. It shows your confident trust in his wisdom and in the integrity of his character. And not only is it pleasing to your Maker, it helps you. It lifts you from depression and self-pity, fills you with joy, and gives you the faith you need to face the difficulty.
Praise to God ‘endures forever’ (Psalm 111:10). In other words, in the final analysis (perhaps not until the end of the world), when all the facts are revealed, it will be proved that every time you praised God, you did exactly the right thing. You will be eternally grateful for every time you have thanked and praised God, and particularly for those times you persevered in praise, despite the fact that it was hard to do. On the other hand, we will end up ashamed of every time we’ve blamed our Maker or complained to him (Proverbs 19:3; Isaiah 45:24; Romans. 3:l9). When all the facts are revealed, it will be proved that, in every situation, our Lord was not only ‘in the clear’, but he fully deserved to be praised.
Imagine a person who is looking forward to his birthday, but when the time finally arrives, everyone seems to have forgotten him. Suppose he gets angry and says unkind things to his friends. Imagine how embarrassed he’ll be when he discovers the wonderful surprise party they have planned for him! How he’ll wish he’d had faith in his friends, instead of making such a fool of himself!
Be warned! Your wonderful Lord loves giving surprises! Show that you trust him by praising him even when things look black – when it seems as though God has let you down, or forgotten you. As time progresses, it will become obvious how much God was loving you and taking care of you, even in that difficult situation. It will then be easy to praise God, but you’ll be especially glad that you praised him in the midst of the problem, when you couldn’t see God’s surprise just around the corner.
The miracles recorded in Scripture indicate that God rarely performs miracles for those who are not in serious difficulty. For instance, you have to be sick before you can be miraculously healed! So rejoice when things seem absolutely disastrous and you can see no way out! A miracle is almost certainly just around the corner!
Biblical ways of expressing your praise:
Speaking (Luke 1:64)
Singing (Psalm 108:1; Ephesians 5:19)
Shouting (Psalm 71:23; Revelation 5:12)
Musical instruments (Psalm 150:3)
Percussion instruments (Psalm 150:5)
Clapping (Psalm 47:1)
Dancing (Psalm 150:4; Acts 3:8)
Raising hands (Psalm 134:2; 1 Timothy 2:8)
God loves hearing you express your praise using your own words, but it is quite acceptable to use parts of Scripture which contain praise (eg. 1 Chronicles 29:10-13; Psalm 103; 111; 113; 138; 145; Revelation 4:8-11; 5:9-14; etc.). Whenever you find an expression of praise (perhaps a sentence or phrase) which is particularly meaningful to you, memorize it and it can then become part of your praise vocabulary.
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It is very important that you work hard for Jesus, but he wants your love far more than your labors (Luke 10:38-42; Revelation 2:2-5). Since God owns everything and can do anything, he doesn’t really need your money or labor. He only wants these things as an expression of your love. (See 1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
One of your new abilities, due to your union with Christ, is that you no longer need be controlled by your emotions. You can rule your emotions (eg. Psalm 42:11; 103:1; 108:1).
So, literally stir up your emotions and get excited about God. This is what is meant by ‘delighting’ (Psalm 37:4) and ‘rejoicing’ in the Lord (Isaiah 61:10). God wants us to do this constantly (Philippians 4:4). One way to ensure that God is the Source of your joy (Psalm 43:4) is to regard your most precious possessions or experiences as mere dirt, compared with the joy of knowing God (Job 22:24-26).
Your Divine Lover, above everything in existence, is worth getting excited about! Many people get excited and highly emotional about pop stars, movies, sport, and so on, but these things are nothing, compared with God.
God created your emotions. Use them to bring glory to God. David got so excited about God that he literally danced and jumped for joy. His wife despised him for it, considering that he had brought shame upon himself. But the Lord vindicated David and brought shame upon this woman by causing her to be barren (2 Samuel 6:14-16, 20-23). I wonder how many people are spiritually barren because they don’t get excited about the King of kings and even despise anyone who does.) See Ezra 3:11,13; Luke 6:23.
Develop a deep yearning for your glorious Lord. (See Psalms 16:11; 17:15; 21:6; 27:4; 42:1-2; 62:1; 63:1-8; 73:25; 84:2,10). This deep longing may be attained by praying for it and spending time thinking about how much you need your wonderful Lord, and how good and loving he is. It is also important to stop thinking that we would be happier with more money or more friends or some such thing. Realize that what you really need, to satisfy that emptiness within, is an even closer relationship with your Perfect Lover.
Serve the Lord with gladness (Psalm 100:2)! This is most important (Deuteronomy 28:47-48). Rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16)! No more grumbling or complaining (Philippians 2:14 James 5:9) even if everything seems to go wrong (Habakkuk 3:17-18)!
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