God doesn't want us to have a religion. God wants us to have a relationship.
"'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.'" Matthew 15:8-9 (NIV)
God wants us to have a relationship with Him. But what does this really mean?
A few years ago, I met a woman at a conference where I was speaking. I didn't know many details about her life, but I did learn she'd been going to church for a long time.
And she'd been serving, giving and doing all the right church stuff.
But something was missing.
"I never could quite put my finger on it until I heard your message," she whispered. "I never knew what it really meant to have a relationship with Jesus. But hearing you explain it, something clicked. I walked forward today. I gave my heart to Jesus."
I wondered, What part of that day caused the profound click in her soul?
Of course, it was the Holy Spirit moving ... somehow in the midst of my sharing the broken places of my life, things came together in hers.
It got me thinking about us doing life together here through this daily devotion. Each day, we spend a few minutes together over the Internet learning how to navigate life as Jesus' girls. But all that talk is for nothing if our hearts stay far away from Jesus.
It's not about momentary motivation to make it through today.
It's not about spiffy quotes to ponder and put into practice.
It's not about relationship tactics and turnkey solutions.
It's not about bite-size pieces of peace to make life a little more manageable.
It's not about making our lives look and feel a little better.
It has to be about Jesus. And drawing our hearts into His reality. His grace. His love. His hope. His forgiveness. And most of all, the free gift of salvation because of Him.
Have you ever felt like you couldn't put your finger on what was missing? Maybe you bounce from one religious activity to the next, but your heart feels far from God? Oh, sweet sister, can we chat?
God doesn't want us to have a religion. A religion is where we follow rules hoping to do life right, and serve God out of duty because we think we have to.
God wants us to have a relationship. A relationship where we follow Him. A relationship where we serve God not out of duty, but out of delight because we've realized who we are in Him. A relationship where our obedience is born out of love.
For years, I went to church to get a little "God goodness" in my life. But it was like putting fresh paint on rotting wood. I was living just like those talked about in Matthew 15:8-9,"'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.'"
I realized I didn't need to be just following the rules ... I needed to be following Jesus. God Himself.
I didn't need a little "God goodness" to rub off on me ... I needed God to invade the deepest parts in me.
So, I knelt down in the midst of my messy, chaotic, confused life and started a relationship with Him by simply saying, "Yes."
Yes, I am a sinner in need of a Savior.
Yes, I acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Son of God, sent to die on a cross and resurrected on the third day to save me from my sins.
Yes, I want Jesus to be the Lord and Master of my life.
Yes, I am now and forever will be a forgiven and saved child of the Almighty God.
Yes, I will follow Jesus today, tomorrow and every other day I'm blessed with life on this earth.
Let me quiet the voice of Satan screaming to resist this process. He wants to trip us up by whispering how we won't be able to live this out perfectly. Jesus has never ever asked us to be perfect. He simply wants us perfectly surrendered. I often pray, "Oh Jesus, I am such a mess, but I am Yours. Show me ... help me ... forgive me ... reassure me ... and pour Your tender mercy upon me."
And He does.
And He always will.
My imperfections are safely resting in the reality of His perfection.
And I simply press on by continuing to say yes moment by imperfect moment ... day by imperfect day.
Dear Lord, I am such a mess, but I am Yours. Show me ... help me ... forgive me ... reassure me ... and pour Your tender mercy upon me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
In this devotion, Lysa said, "So, I knelt down in the midst of my messy, chaotic, confused life and started a relationship with Him by simply saying, 'Yes.'"
Think of simple ways you can say yes to God today. How would that look? What would change in how you live your life?
Psalm 53:2, "God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God." (NIV)