Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 4 October 20:
Jeremiah 2:6 – “They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, no man dwells?’”
Our relationship with God is meant to be very personal and real, the defining experience of our life. Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) Eternal life began the moment you were saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and you are meant to know Him more and more each day and make Him known more and more each day as you walk with Him through life and experience Him.
Christianity is not just doctrines to believe (though doctrine is important), habits to practice (though habits are important), and sins to avoid (though avoiding sin is important). Our religion is about relationship, everything designed to help us draw closer to Jesus in loving unity and with each other in Him. Also, God intentionally uses our life experiences to grow us in Christlike character – nothing is random, and we are not mere victims. (see Romans 28, 29) However, if we don’t guard our hearts, our “religion” can become heartless habits, empty rituals and prideful legalism, and our churches can become organizations that promote merely moralism rather than genuine relationship with Christ. If we aren’t careful, our giving can become burdensome, futile attempts to earn God’s favor or ease our guilty consciences rather than opportunities to express our love to Him and to care lovingly for others; our prayers can become hurried, rote mantras rather than intimate two-way conversations with Him; and our obedience can become self-righteous legalism rather than the natural response of someone who eagerly seeks to serve the One they love.
Called by God, Jeremiah spoke to a people who had replaced genuine relationship with empty ritual, and they had grown so comfortable in their condition, they didn’t even notice their separation from God. They attended worship services, studied, prayed and gave, but their activities were hollow, futile and powerless.
Is it possible to pray, to attend a worship service, or to give an offering yet not to experience the presence of God? It certainly is possible! And that has been the sad commentary on many a Christian experience. Don’t settle for a religious life that lacks a vital relationship to Jesus Christ. When God is present, the difference will be obvious.
- Revelation 2:2-5 — “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 4 October 20: Today, as you study, attend church, sing, pray, give and fellowship, focus on your relationship with Jesus and truly experience Him. When you walk through the day, walk with Him; practice the presence of God.