Finding success in our relationships has a lot to do with our inner condition. If we have grown in intimacy with God, our life will begin to change for the good (not circumstantially necessarily but in terms of relationships and character). If we have made strides in our struggle with lying or anger or worry, we will find that our ability to be in relationship with others will be enhanced. But the opposite is also true: if we are still ruled by anger, for example, learning how to love, forgive, and serve others will be more challenging. Good trees bear good fruit, or the inside is what leads to the outside (Matthew 7:16-20).
When Jesus called James and John to follow him, they left everything immediately (Matthew 4:21-22). They left their nets, their to-do lists and occupation and immediately followed.
Immediately was the response. I am urged and stirred to be an immediate responder–without hesitation, without delay.
Would I dare to have this level of immediate response? The trust?
God, give me the wisdom, discernment, and courage to obey–immediately.
Our God is a suffering God. Yes, He is holy, righteous, all-powerful. Yet He freely suffered…for US, and more so than we could ever imagine.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:3-5
But why did God suffer? Because He loved and loves us. That means He also enters INTO OUR suffering.
For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:17-18
We are not alone in our suffering today. Jesus has been there and walked in your shoes and He is here for us right now.
Call out to Him.
After six days of creation, God stopped. God rested. God made it a pattern for His creation.
The seventh day stands alone to remind us that we are not the Creator. The world does not exist because of or for our mindless activity and busyness. Each week there is a reminder that we are the created, a part of something wonderful and awesome that is beyond our own clever crafting or industrious labor but comes from the mind of God.
God brought order to chaos by his world only. The result is a system of provision and abundance so magnificent that you only have to work six days and yet there is supply for seven.
The Garden of Eden has always been understood as “paradise.” Why? Because of the lush landscapes, beautiful views, and plentiful
food fruit? Because there is an absence of work and responsibility? No.
It’s paradise because of the presence of God. God would come and walk in the garden with them in the cool of the evening.
The Fall into sin for Adam and Eve split that relationship. The idyllic garden is to be no more until the new heaven and earth are formed again at the return of Christ. Yet, through the blood of Christ, our relationship has been restored and the Holy Spirit is present. No, it’s not Eden. But every day we walk with God now is a foretaste of future paradise.
Is it necessary? Is it useful? Does it bring joy to you? Those are questions we ask to determine what we hold on to: stuff (materials goods), relationships, and even memories. We naturally want to protect those things that bring us the most joy. We should want to preserve them and share them. Most of all, we want to experience them, because they bring delight.
From God’s viewpoint, everything He created including you and me bring Him great joy. You can find assurance in knowing that God wants to preserve and protect us.
When considering and evaluating and self-reflecting on our generosity (or lack thereof), if we start from a place of guilt and obligation, it is unlikely we will find joy and gratitude.
Rather than starting with ourselves, let’s start by looking at God. Being a faithful steward and generous disciple is a response to God and what He has done, rather than serving to get a reaction from God. God has already blessed, already provided.