Tag Archive for relationship with God

A Taste of Heaven

My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. (Psalm 63:8, NIV)

If you want a taste of heaven in this world, cultivate a close, humble, loving communion with God. God will be the beauty and peace of heaven. Why wait till then to enjoy Him?

Keep bringing your thoughts back to Him in dependence and praise. If we knew our constant need for His help, we wouldn’t lose sight of Him for a second.

Make your heart a sanctuary where He is always worshiped. Guard your heart, your mind, and your mouth that you don’t do, say, or think anything displeasing to Him.

Remember, His help is always available. He never leaves us to our own strength. We just have to ask.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: My Mind Will Be Your Holy Place
Printed Music & Lyrics

by Brother Lawrence and Ken Bible

Only by the Lord

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, NIV)

My fruitfulness flows from the presence of Christ within me. I am completely dependent on His working in and through me.

That’s why my devotional life is so critical – not just in those special private times but also as I look to Him throughout the day. Such prayer keeps me in touch with Him and open to His influence. Without it, I tend to sink into preoccupation with myself and lesser concerns.

Writing teaches me this dependence more than anything else ever has. Every morning when I get up and begin, I have to face my own inability and release the work to Him: “Lord, this time is Yours. I can only work as You enable me. I look to You now and will just follow as You lead.”

This is especially necessary when the task gets difficult. When I get stuck at a spot, my first instinct is to press harder. I want to get past the frustration and finish the job. But I’m learning I have to stop and pray: “Lord, I did not choose this task, nor can I make it happen. It is Yours. I am simply available to You.”

I have to open myself to Him and wait, letting Him work in His way and time. And He does – beautifully, bringing me solutions and directions I never could have found on my own.

Frequently the wait is relatively short. Something unexplainable just happens when I release the task to Him. He works so naturally and perfectly.

Yet sometimes the wait is longer. I’m forced to live with unfinished business, and I can become anxious and discouraged. During such times, I repeatedly go to Him, intent on talking about the doing. But He wants to talk about us. He reminds me to look at Him, enjoy Him, and be at peace in Him. He invites me to just rest in His doing.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, NIV)

Remain in him by praying to Him throughout the day. It will help keep your heart set on Him. And you will know that He, himself, is life’s sweetest gift and the source of all your fruitfulness.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: As I Pray
Printed Music & Lyrics

Sing to Nurture a Relationship with God

This is the seventh in a series of Friday posts on congregational song.

I believe that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the key to joy, satisfaction, fruitfulness, and meaning, now, every moment, and forever.

I believe such a relationship is available to every human creature. Personality doesn’t matter. Intellect and education don’t matter. Culture doesn’t matter. Age doesn’t matter. Financial and social status don’t matter. Every person can have a satisfying and meaningful life through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Further, God is always, everywhere calling everyone into this relationship with Himself. What’s more, He gives us the privilege of participating in His call to others.

That’s why I believe so passionately in hymns. A personal relationship with Christ is the key to life for every person, and hymns can nurture that relationship.

Some worship leaders focus on creating “an experience” for their worshipers or trying to “make a moment” for them. Experiences with God can be important and formative, but only as they contribute to an ongoing relationship with God. That relationship is the key.

I suggest that our hymns and worship services focus on nurturing our ongoing relationship with God rather than on creating a temporary “experience” with God. Our services last one hour or so. What about the other 167 hours? Sundays should focus on the week, not the moment. Their purpose should be to prepare people for daily living. When that is the emphasis, substance becomes far more important than style.

As many suggest, it is vital that our worship services remind people of the reality of God’s presence. But remember, God is always with us, not just on Sunday morning, and we realize His presence, not by emotion, but by faith.

For example, consider how Christ mentored His disciples. Was it by leading them into a big emotional worship experience? Perhaps once, on the mount of transfiguration, with only three disciples, immediately before His death. But His focus was on nourishing their faith and a constant relationship with the Father. Jesus’ strength was fed, not by emotional pit-stops, but by a life of prayer and by constant trust in His Father. That’s what He wanted for His disciples as well.

That should be our deepest desire, both for ourselves and for those to whom we minister. Refocus your worship on nurturing a relationship with the Living God, a relationship of faith, for that relationship is life’s greatest treasure, now and forever.