buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “relationship”

Sweet Spot

Recently, I heard a message which contained a few statistics on churchgoers. The research indicated that there were four categories of churchgoers. We all start out in the first category as people far from God. We may know about Him but do not have a relationship with Jesus. The second category is ones who have a relationship with Jesus – we understand we have received grace by the blood of Jesus, but still working out what this relationship really means. The third category is people who have a close relationship with Jesus. They depend on Jesus daily for guidance. The fourth category is the ones who have Jesus fully in the center of their lives. They have totally surrendered everything to Him. It’s the most important relationship they have. It guides everything that they do. Of those in the fourth category, the teacher said his research focused on the thirteen percent of the “elite” Christ-centered folks.

The thirteen percent are the ones who love Jesus with all their hearts. They willingly share their love of Jesus with others. They serve Him completely. There is nothing that stops them from sharing everything they have for the love and sake of the Gospel. One out of seven or eight people in the church have this type of commitment. I wish I could say that I was in the thirteen percent. This is my goal though. The church’s mission is really about getting us all to this category. We are to become disciples who make disciples. Disciples have a heart for people – we are supposed to love one another. This is our trademark as a disciple – that’s how others will know we are disciples of Jesus. The relationship with Jesus is the key to loving others. We can’t do it on our own. It’s impossible to love others first. Sometimes though, I have found it’s easier to focus on the vertical relationship than to focus on other relationships.

The church is in the business of moving us from one category to the next. However, we may have a wall that gets in the way of moving from one category to the next. This was really a “ah-ha” moment for me. I definitely have built a wall around my heart. I have gotten hurt in the pass, and it’s just easier to keep people at a distance. I haven’t loved others as I should because it’s a vulnerability that I just don’t want to risk. But the wall is keeping me from living in the sweet spot with Jesus. The sweet spot is the place where everything changes. It’s the place of being in the center of God’s will. We are living with purpose and contentment that God is in control of our circumstances for our good and His glory. The sweet spot is where I become one with Jesus. I always thought it was the marriage ceremony to come in the new Kingdom, but I believe now that is the true place where God wants us right here, right now. To be married to the heart of Jesus – to be one – united in His desires and united as the body of Christ. Living in the sweet spot is a great joy to Jesus. When we’re all in, He can do more through us than what we could ever ask or imagine!

What if this was the goal of everyone in the church body? What if it was no longer thirteen percent of the church but more like fifty percent or sixty-five percent? How would that change our communities? How would that change the perception of “church” today? Would we make a difference in our cities or nation? This takes a different mindset. It takes commitment to the relationship with Jesus. It takes more than just going to church every Sunday and checking a box for the week. It’s a dedication to develop more understanding, more time with Him, more opportunities to serve Him – it’s more cost to us. It’s called a surrendered life. It’s about giving up control. And who actually likes giving up control?! Control needs to be in the hands of the One who can handle it. To become spiritually mature, we need to become more intimate with Jesus. It’s the only way to move from one category to the next. Let’s grow the percentage of those who are in love with Jesus, live in the sweet spot, and make a difference in the world around us!

Note: The teaching message was from Oak Hill Church by Greg Hawkins “The Goal” and “The Plan”

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:9-12

Rules or Follow

Rules. I tried my best to follow them, but I usually failed. “Don’t do that. Don’t say that.” You have to do this because that’s the way it’s supposed to be done. You have to be a good girl in order to get to heaven. I was never really bent toward being good. I failed to live up to the standards set by my parents and by God. I just couldn’t do it. But then I found out no one else could either. My parents made mistakes. My sisters made mistakes. My friends made mistakes. So if everyone makes mistakes, who can live up to the standards of all the rules? No one.

When I started reading the Bible, I noticed Jesus didn’t say anything about following the rules. He said to follow Him. He asked the disciples one by one to follow Him. Yes, when we follow Him, we will actually follow the rules because He would never lead us into something that went against what God says. God placed rules or laws for us to follow so that we would know when we sinned – when we went against what God says. The law was not abolished when Jesus came; He came to fulfill them. He broke the rules by communing with sinners. He went against what the religious men said to do. Religion was made by man; but a relationship was made by Jesus. For many years, I didn’t understand that Jesus wanted a relationship. I thought it was always about the rules.

No, I couldn’t follow the rules. But I can follow one who breaks the rules in order to have a relationship. Jesus said to follow Him. I started that by reading what He said and read about His actions. The Holy Spirit seals us with the promise that we are His and teaches us how to follow Jesus. It’s by grace that we are given the presence of His Spirit. Yes, I believe I can follow this person who gives grace and mercy. I can have a relationship with the one who died for my sins. I can love the one who loved me first. I can be mindful of His laws because I have His presence within me. He teaches me as we walk the path – the Way. This is the way to eternal life with Jesus. One step at a time. Will I do it perfectly? No. But when I get off the path, I know His presence will gently remind me where I need to be. He will instruct me on how to return.

Is it really that easy? Yes and no. Yes, it’s just a simple command to follow Him. The hard part is laying down my own selfish desires – the “my way.” The hard part is to give up the things that keep me from hearing His voice – the things that distract me from His will; things that keep me from His best. It’s easy to follow when my heart is right and my focus is right. But the distractions, the other voices keep pulling me from the path. I am like Peter who starts out of the boat with the right focus, but somewhere along the way, I get distracted by the storms. Jesus never leaves us to drown though. He is always just one call away. Lord, save me! And He always does. No matter what. That’s because of the relationship with Jesus.

It’s not about religion. It’s about Jesus, my Shepherd. I am just a dumb sheep, who tends to wander. But I have a Good Shepherd that will not leave me in a place where the wolves are waiting. He searches for me because sometimes I don’t even know that I am off the path. Religion says that we search for God. But God says “I searched for you and found you and did not leave you where you were. I claimed you as my own.” That’s the God I follow. Jesus says to follow Him. Yes, I will follow Him to my eternal life with God through Jesus’ death and resurrection. This I confess and believe with all my heart. Jesus is Lord of all – King of kings; Lord of lords. For there is no other.

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:16-18

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