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God Calls Us Friend

God Calls Us

….Friend

A friend from years back showed me a valuable truth this past week . . .

My friend tells me that I’m among her closest friends. For awhile, she’s been texting me saying she wants to talk and catch up (it’s been months since we talked). She says there are few people she will always pick up the phone for, I’m one. However, the phone hasn’t been picked up in a long time. When it comes down to it, she doesn’t make the time to connect – it’s like our friendship is at the bottom of her to-do list – below cleaning the scum off the tub. sigh

We all have the same amount of time. How we spend that time speaks of our priorities. Her actions have been telling me for awhile where our friendship is placed – painfully low. Now if we didn’t talk between visits (she lives in a different state) and both agreed that would be fine. But, it’s saying one thing and doing another that sets me up with false expectations and that is where the disappointment sets in. Expressing how much I mean to her and her desire to talk becomes meaningless when her actions don’t back up her words. It hurts. It feels like she doesn’t care; like our friendship doesn’t really matter.

In addition, in the past couple of years, when we have gotten together, I’m multitasked in with other activities so that she isn’t with me. She has gotten better as I’ve mentioned it to her. She is a bit more engaged during our few hours spent together each year, but her life is one big multitasked distraction-filled conglomeration with our friendship thrown in the pile.

This reflection has been a good reminder for me. We all get busy and distracted, and we can neglect those things that are most important like our relationships. So, how am I treating those I call friend? Those I profess to love? Am I doing and focusing on what is truly most important?

The other day another incident happened where my expectations where let down once again. In the past month, the Holy Spirit has given me good counsel in regards to her and for relationships in general – about expectations, boundaries, balance, but this occurrence bothered me until I wrote this post. God wanted to show me something through it.

The emotion I felt, the hurt, was to give me a peek into God’s heart and share it with you.

Words are meaningless without the action and heart all working in unison. People tell God all the time they love Him, they long to be near to Him, and to be in His presence. But when it comes down to it, they don’t make the time. Other activities and people come first. Our actions and the state of our heart in those actions reveal the truth of what is important to us. For there to be sincerity there has to be an unison of the three; words, action, heart. When we don’t take time to be with Him, or are always distracted or multitasking when we do take time, what does that really say?

Matthew 15:8 These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.

God showed me the importance of the connection between our words, actions and heart. It wasn’t to guilt me or anyone else who might read this. He doesn’t guilt His children. Guilt comes from another voice. He was giving me an awareness of our actions and heart and what they reveal, and how they measure up to our words. It was about being real and sincere. It was about what God desires from us, because He loves us. It was about how our relationship with Him is to be as well as our relationship with others.

God desires that we spend time with Him; delight in just being with Him. That’s what you do when you love someone. You want to be near them. It isn’t just when you need something. God desires us to draw near because He is our God, our Friend, our Love.

How am I acting toward God, who calls me His friend, His bride? What is my heart when I’m with Him? What do my actions reveal? Do my words, actions and heart line up? Asking these questions can be very revealing about the true state of our relationship with God.

If you feel these three aren’t adding up, don’t fret, act. God loves you. He longs to be near you. Be real with Him, draw near to Him in truth and spirit. Give your love for Him a chance to grow and develop. Be real about it. If you don’t deeply feel a love for Him, be honest, He knows it anyway. Ask for it. Truth is the starting place to true growth.

Consider how much He loves you and how He wants to make His home in you John 14:23 Draw near to Him in truth. Get to know Him as He is and love will follow until He becomes your first love. Then carry this same awareness to others’ in your life and love them with all sincerity, with a unity of words, actions and heart. But focus on God first. When there is a solid relationship with Him, the rest of your relationships bloom as they should. He comes first.

1 Peter 1:22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,

Luke 10:27 So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.'”

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When First Things are First, then All Else Follows

When First Things are First

Then All Else Follows

Like many books on Christian growth and discipleship, Dallas Willard in The Great Omission, mentions various spiritual disciplines; prayer, fasting, silence, solitude, worship, scripture memorization, and proper fellowship. And if we do these, then they will aid us in being true disciples of Christ and conforming to His image.

As I thought about these disciplines, what came to mind were two things 1.) the verses that state the Word needs to be our foundation to each one of these acts and 2.) my own experience.

1 Corinthians 14:15 What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.

John 4:24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Proverbs 28:9 One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith (acting on His Word) it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Luke 4:4 But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'” (during a 40 day fast)

The Word is to be our foundation to all we do because it is the originator of our understanding, trust, faith, and beliefs. Without it spiritual disciplines aren’t worth much, but with it they powerful beyond measure.

I have found this true in my own life. Despite my diligence in doing various spiritual disciplines, I was empty, in bondage, spiritually starving, powerless and wanting more. Frustrated, overwhelmed and tired, several years ago I put everything aside and did the one thing my Lord commands in Matthew 6:33. With His Word in first place, my spiritual life started to prosper. All else followed. Everything changed. Abiding in His Word is the key to everything else because then truth and faith in Him is infused into the depths of our soul.

When we put first things first, then everything else flows with purpose, depth and power. If we don’t, the rest is forced and ineffective, weak, and shallow.

Therefore, personally abiding in the Word is the cornerstone to our spiritual lives. We can’t own His truth by listening to someone else’s rendition of it. We have to engage, abide, and swim in it and look to the Spirit to write it in our minds and hearts. Why can’t we just listen to the preacher? Our abiding fosters intimacy with our Husband, His will for us. A personal engagement with the Word requires us to trust Him to teach and guide us through the intricacies of His words. That trust leads to the relationship He desires with us. When we come to God in His Word like we would our spouse; intimate, alone, consistent, and with a heart to know Him and be united to Him, then His truth will become ours. This is God’s design. Our beliefs will move in line with His truth and will, and everything will start to flow from that foundation.

Yet how often is abiding in His Word the last thing we do or have time for? Everything else comes first. Many churches overtly or covertly support that abiding is no big deal. Stop listening to them. Listen to God’s truth. He says His Word is the cornerstone of our lives. It is the cornerstone because our beliefs affect everything else.

All we do comes down to the beliefs we hold. Belief is the work that Christ gave us to do (John 6:29). It is work to believe because the world inundates us with its lies. Faith, our beliefs in motion, comes from hearing the Word, not interpretations, stories and someone else’s opinions, but hearing the pure Word taught to us by the Spirit. (John 14:26) Without faith in Him and the right beliefs, then our prayers, worship, acts of service, fasting, fellowship and all else is without truth. We are following the god of our minds which we, society and others have created. Yes, straightening out our beliefs and faith in Him takes time, but who are we cultivating faith in?

If we want to honor God and have our lives infused with His then we have to do things His way. His will is for us to abide in Him, the vine, the truth, the light, Christ, the Word. When we do He promises that all else will follow and all we do will be done in truth, spirit and power.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth

How different Christendom would be if each one of us abided in God’s Word as He instructs us. The Word is to be the cornerstone of our lives. Without the cornerstone the temple falls apart as we are witnessing.

What is the main act you do for your faith? Church, prayer, service? Whatever it is that is your foundation. Spiritual disciplines are very important, but if they are not established on a personal engagement of the Word of God then those acts lack power because they are based on something else and honoring someone else. What was designed to be first can’t and won’t take second place. Let’s put first things first and abide in The Word.