Sunday, April 19, 2020

Books and Service are not Enough

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” John 5:39–40 

Bible study will not give you eternal life. You could memorize the entire Bible and be able to discuss minute issues of biblical scholarship and yet fail to experience the truths found in its pages. It is a subtle temptation to prefer the book to the Author. A book will not confront you about your sin; the Author will. Books can be ignored; it is much harder to avoid the Author when He is seeking a relationship with you. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day thought God would be pleased with their knowledge of His Word. They could quote long, complicated passages of Scripture. They loved to recite and study God's Law for hours on end. Yet Jesus condemned them because, although they knew the Scriptures, they did not know God. They were proud of their Bible knowledge, but they rejected the invitation to know God's Son. Can you imagine yourself knowing all that God has promised to do in your life but then turning to something else instead? You may be tempted to turn to substitutes. These substitutes aren’t necessarily bad things. They might include serving in the church, doing good deeds, or reading Christian books. No amount of Christian activity will ever replace your relationship with Jesus. The apostle Paul considered every “good” thing he had ever done to be “rubbish” when compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ (Phil. 3:8). Never become satisfied with religious activity rather than a personal, vibrant, and growing relationship with Jesus Christ. - Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day 

To what do you look forward to in your day upon waking up?  To be honest, for much of my life I really didn't.  Look forward to anything that is.  

I am really excited for this day though.  This is the 500th message that God's brought to me to share with all of you. 

But what else is there, you may say, upon looking at the title of this one.  There's every type of attempt at a life with Christ from the child to the grave.  The grave?  Yes. There's those who only come to Christ before they die.  Essentially their life with Christ begins at their end.

It's not difficult to understand what a Pastor friend once told me concerning those you see on television who claim to be preachers.  You have no idea what they are really like off screen. 

The difference in the Bible to man is the Bible is indeed alive.  It's examples relevant.  The Author is available for comments all the time, 24/7.  But look at what Blackaby is saying too.  We have modern day Pharisees and Sadducees.  Evangelicals who aren't about teaching the necessity of a relationship with Jesus. 

Oh they can pop out books like McDonald's does hamburgers.  Books on their view of prophecies.  Their views on self-help.  Their views but not necessarily on the relationship with Jesus. 

I do read devotionals. But I start, always, with my Bible. There's no point in their devotionals without the relationship with Jesus. Prayer, praying, must be at the root of your relationship with Jesus.  Being honest with Him and yourself.  We are infected by something alright. It's worse than anything else.  It's called sin.  Sin wants nothing to do with a right relationship with Jesus.  It looks out for itself.  Pride is its cornerstone.  Getting what it wants is most important. Even if deception is necessary.   It will twist Scripture. It will make you too busy to remember to pray or give thanks to God. 

Devotionals are a good supplement but it's not a substitute for the real relationship with Jesus. 

Groups are no substitute for a real relationship with Jesus. 

Government is no substitute for a real relationship with Jesus. 

Family is no substitute for a real relationship with Jesus. 

Friends and even your spouse is no substitute for a real relationship with Jesus.  

That relationship is what's to fuel your relationship with others.  Not them first and God a distant 3rd.  There is no substitute.  

You may be scorned and mocked because you choose Jesus first.  Well surprise surprise Jesus said if you follow Him expect that from others. King David, in my reading this morning, was celebrating with all His might before the Ark of the Covenant, bringing it to Jerusalem.  His wife thought it a royal embarrassment. That the King would comport himself in such a way.  Bad enough she thought it, she said it outloud.  Her servants heard it...if that wasn't bad enough...she said as much to King David.  She didn't believe that the Lord was worth celebrating?  She died childless. Honored not the rest of her days. She wouldn't let the Lord have first place in her heart...He would withhold His blessings.

Jesus showed clearly that He loved talking with people. Loved the intimate moments of conversation.  He still does today.  

Aside from my prayers throughout the day, I pray on my way to work. Just my Jesus and I alone in the car.  Sharing what's happening in my life and what's on my heart.  

This blog was a result of seeking to serve Jesus in some way.  I have been limited for decades because I can't memorialize words and phrases that well.  God reminded me of the day in which I live. He gave me a portable means of Googling Scripture.  The Spirit would give me enough to get started and I could find the rest.  But all of this is still an offshoot of the relationship with Jesus. 

Make sure your priorities are right.  Your relationship with Jesus is the absolute, unquestionable, first thing in your life. 

If your mind isn't on Christ at the beginning of your day it's likely not going there the rest of the day. 

Big name preachers are out there, but, be mindful that you do not worship the ground they walk on.  Many have dozens of books.  But only one book is essential. The Bible. 

The relationships that are to come from what has been called The Great Commission, the last orders from Christ to His Disciples, are Christ centered.  He is the focus.  Not their employer. Not their families not their friends.  Read what it says. Matthew 28
"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”"

You see the focus?  But also realize that Jesus said a man's enemies will be members of his own household. Every form of distraction will try to get in your way.  Even seemingly good things can be bad. Protesters can have a right idea but give God a black eye in their way of displaying their angst.  They honor not God nor give heed to God not necessarily needing our help in dealing with people who aren't aligned with Christ. 

So look at your life with Christ today if you indeed have one.  Where is your focus?

I know in these days in which we live this virus is putting a hurt on physical activity and relationships but none of those constraints apply to you and God. 

Quit looking for exceptions to the rules in this physical environment.  Look for a better relationship with Jesus. 

He is the what? Author and what? PERFECTER of our faith.  We are what? His workmanship. We are His masterpiece.

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