How To Build Your Relationship To Jesus!

March 23, 2013

As we got closer and closer to 2000, there was a whole lot of talk and excitement about meeting Jesus soon, maybe. I had extreme doubts, but I would not have been upset if I was wrong. That talk is back again. I am concerned that all this loose lips stuff might hinder the old Gospel Ship though it won’t sink it. A mess of heathen are “praying” that He doesn’t show up. Not because they are lost and not ready to meet Him, but because they want to be able to get rowdy about those nut cake Christians and their God that did not show up. (1 Peter 3:3,4) If we were more biblical than emotional, we would not set ourselves for ridicule.

Not only that, I am concerned that with as many professing Christians that we have in this country should we panic and make a run on the banks we might cause a problem that is not Y2K created but rather one that is why am I dumb created. That could cause some “unofficial” persecution as well as needless suffering to the rest of the folks in this nation. It could also be the foundation for “official” persecution. Remember Hitler blamed the Jews for the financial woes of Germany and the flames of genocide were ignited.

I have already worked in a shop where my life was threatened and I was verbally tormented daily once they found out that I went to Bible College. Had there been an open season on Christians, I would not be here today. Of course, neither might you. If God deigns for us to suffer persecution before He returns than we can rejoice in being counted worthy to suffer for His name. However, if we in our stupidity bring it upon ourselves we gain nothing by receiving it stalwartly. (1 Peter 2:20)

Being more biblical than emotional would help us from falling into such traps, but also knowing Jesus better and how He thinks would make our preaching more sound. I am afraid that many of the folks that are getting all excited about Jesus coming in 2000 would be shocked and dismayed if He arrived. A lot of them that are shouting for the Day of the Lord are going to hear, “depart from me for I never knew you.” (Amos 5:18-27; Matt 7:20-23)

The sad part is that many He does know are not going to recognize Him and be joyful. The Bride of Christ is going to look at Him like she was a mail-order bride seeing her Husband for the first time and He sure doesn’t look like His pictures. She may recognize the voice somewhat, because His sheep hear His voice and She did not follow another. (John 10) She knows Him, but not as He would have liked her to know Him. She can quote His love letters, but they are still barely more than strangers. They will have a lot of catching up to do at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

In light of the possibility of His soon Parousia (coming) or your soon passing, you must build your relationship with Jesus. While I will primarily address our relationship to Christ as His spouse, you will see some correlation of these principles to your marriage, career, and church life.

The first step to a strong relationship to Christ is being totally committed! Drat! I said the dreaded C word. We live in a time when you ask people to commit themselves they look at you like they want to have you committed. The X-generation is not the only one that has this problem. It is has become a retro situation because the no commit bug infects my generation and the remnant of the previous generation as well. That one bugs me more than the Y2K bug.

My generation coined the phrase, “If it feels good, do it” but the practice has spread across at least three generations. We all do what we feel like doing and if we feel like doing nothing we do nothing until we can no longer feel. In order to develop a relationship with Christ you have to forget feelings.

So many marriages fail because they are based more upon feelings than commitment. When a couple are newlyweds everything is fresh and exciting. The rush they get experiencing so many new things keeps emotions or passions high. After awhile it is a bit different, what was once new and exciting becomes a bit routine. If they both work, the job stress may make them too tired for communication and romance. If the wife stays home and tends to one or more children, she is just as stressed as if she were she the CEO of a small firm.

Let that stress build up and the bills pile up and the couple clam up and there is going to be a bust up if they are not committed to their vows. They look at each other and say, “You know, he/she is just not as much fun as he/she used to be.” They are feeding on present emotions trying to relive past ones. It cannot be done. If they commit themselves to the relationship and work through the hard times, there will be more good times. Committed they will last!

Praise the Lord that He is committed to His relationship with us. We need to be committed in the same way. He loves us even when things in our lives are not going His way. Do we? He tries to love us and woo us into His will so that we can have dynamic intimacy with Him. We cry, whine, threaten, and try to connive Him to do our will and we wonder why we have no intimacy or joy in our relationship.

2 Tim 2:1-7
1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
6 The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.
7 Consider what I say and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. (KJV)

Paul shows us in the above passage three groups of people who would never succeed in their endeavors if they went by feelings.
I have been an airman, a sailor, and a soldier. I know a little something about the military. When you sign up, you sign away some of your rights. Since G. I. means Government Issue, we were even told that if Uncle Sam wanted us to have a wife, he would have issued us one. We were encouraged not to get married and if we did marry, we were reminded that our first loyalty or commitment was to the military.

I enlisted for active duty during Nam and retired from the Reserves in 1998. While I praise God that I never saw combat, I did spend some time away from my family. The longest was a year in Thailand. My wife was pregnant when I left and my son was four months old before I saw him.

Considering I was on the team during Nam, Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm, Somalia, and even during the Bosnia build up I could have spent a lot more time away from my family. If I did, I would have had no basis for complaint. I raised my hand and took an oath. I committed myself. It was my duty to do all that Uncle required, no matter if I endured great hardship or even death. Many of my comrades suffered a great deal and many of them died. I salute them all!!

No man that warreth wraps himself up in this world. He has to please the one who called him to be a soldier. He endures hardness. Just like a soldier, Christians wear many hats. We are the Bride of Christ with all the privileges and responsibilities accorded to that position. We are also soldiers. We are to war against the world, the flesh, and the devil and too many of us are AWOL or trying for permanent R&R. Some are too cozy with the enemy.

It is a good thing that the Lord is not like my Drill Sergeant. I can imagine what he would have said if I tried to get out of duty because I did not feel like it or because I did not get the award that I should have gotten or because the Captain ignores me. I cannot even type his flowery reply. It would melt your eyes. CMSGT Gooch once told me, “Son, don’t take ten minutes and tell me you can’t do it. Take five and do it.” Yet, we offer up a myriad of excuses as to why we are not in the position that God assigned us. What kind of soldier are you?

I spend thirty minutes, three to five days a week on a treadmill. As a computer technician, I get around a very large piece of real estate with numerous buildings. We have been in a process of installing about 2500 computers and I have felt more like a warehouseman than a technician. My life is not exactly sedentary and yet I am no athlete. For some folks running is their life. For me, if someone is not trying to take my life I have no need to run. I have never felt the rush they say running gives you. I guess I have never been in that big of a rush to get it. I am not committed to it.

It takes a great deal of commitment to be a world class athlete. If a runner does not get up at what we called O dark thirty in the military to start running he will never amount to much. He does this seven days a week in all kinds of weather. He does not yield to his feelings that say, “Sleep another five minutes. Skip today, it is cold, dark, and rainy.” He obeys his commitment.
Many people participate in sports, but few win Olympic medals or gain professional contracts. Many do not have those goals in mind they just want to have fun or maintain some form of fitness. The higher their goal the more intense and focused their exercise and practice becomes.

All Christians are called to run the race. It is fortunate that in Christ we all cross the finish line as partakers of His victory. However, there are differing prizes according to our focus and cooperation with our Trainer. Those of us who are armchair quarterbacks, critics of other runners, and basically just bumper sticker and jewelry announcers will get the Yet So As By Fire medal. Do a concordance check and you will see the other available crowns and rewards.

Lost friend, if you are reading this, you are in the same race, but on the wrong track. If you stay as your are your only reward will be the According To Your Works citation that says you are disqualified and will be transported to the eternal home you worked for in life. Please take the Crossover to the right track. You may be very religious and striving for some spiritual masteries, but you cannot be crowned unless comply with the rules or laws of the race. To enter the proper race lawfully, you must be born again. Otherwise, the Judge will say, “Depart from me for I never knew you.” (John 3:3, Matt 7:21-23)

Brothers and sisters, is it not strange that people put so much effort in winning a crown that fades and we care nothing for the eternal prizes? We are in a race and yet so many times we walk like we have forever to get to the finish line. Our life is a vapor. This life’s rewards are just laurel leaves that wither shortly after they are won. Why waste our energy and become so drained for that which we cannot keep when He has promised to make our yoke and burden light to earn what shall never perish? (Matt 11:28-30) I pray that we might finish our course with joy by following him who endured the Cross and won the crown. (Heb 12:1,2)

The farmer must be the first partaker of his fruits, but if he goes by feelings, he will have no fruit. Sadly, few of us have the blessing of growing up on a farm. So much can be learned about God and His creation doing the chores. We miss that in the cities. We have some difficulty understanding Scriptures that deal with farming or shepherding.

In the days before electricity, a farmer’s day began and ended with sunlight. He was up at the crack of dawn and he worked until sunset. Some days he may have woke the rooster up. Sleeping in was only for the sick and lazy. What had to be done had to be done and putting it off only resulted in loss. Vacation time was after the harvest and that only meant that you had some time off from fieldwork. You still had animals to care for, and buildings and equipment to maintain. You could not maintain a farm by feelings. It was a steady commitment to hard work.

The modern career woman has nothing on the farmer’s wife. She was up with her husband to prepare breakfast for him and anywhere up to a dozen children. Besides household chores, she often participated in feeding the chickens or slopping the hogs or whatever else that needed to be done. She was a seamstress, medic, teacher, and many other things. In fact, if you would have called her just a housewife you might have gotten a frying pan flattop. She was not able to indulge herself in working when she felt like it.

In spite of modern technology making work easier neither man nor woman is happy today. Maybe manual labor was better for us. We did not have so much free time to worry about how we feel. Maybe, “sweat of the brow” was a blessing mixed in to temper the curse. That might be why we do not enjoy the fruit of our labors.

All these examples were given to Timothy to explain what committing things that he had heard to faithful men who shall be able to teach others meant and how to find someone with the correct character traits. Jesus wants to commit truth to us that we may teach others. Are we faithful? Is our relationship to Jesus built on our feelings or commitment? Commitment continues when feelings fade.

We move away from a feelings or emotional relationship when we come to recognize our position! Eph 1:15-23 tells us that Christ is the head and we are the body.  In the physical realm, our head or brain is the command center of the body. It sends out commands at nanosecond speeds and controls every function of the body. When parts of the body do not respond to the head we are ill or injured and we seek a fix.

Sometimes, we are learning a new skill and while our head has what needed to be done down pat, it takes our body some time to adjust to the commands coming from the head. You may have all the theory of music flowing through your head, but until your fingers learn how to respond in the right way and speed your guitar pickin’ is going to sound bad. With consistent practice you will either get better or realize that you just do not have ability to play.

Your head has it down, but you lose something in the translation to the fingers. I am that way when it comes to art. I can “see” some pretty fantastic pictures in my mind. Some would rival the great masters of the past. However, in translation to my fingers so much is lost that I cannot even come up with decent stick figures. Hence, I am not an artist.

In our spiritual life, we have some of the same correlations. Our Head has everything down pat and sends absolutely perfect commands to His body. However, His body is often learning something new and it does not respond as quickly or as efficiently as it should. He has to train it.

At times, parts of the body either refuse to function or are out of control. He then has to send prophets fix those diseased parts and bring them back into a healthy functioning manner. When we realize that we are placed in the body to perform a specific function, we move from being controlled by our emotions to being controlled by His commands. We learn to respond to those commands as we listen to the still small voice. We listen and learn because we are committed to the Head.

That kind of relationship is built by being unselfish! We live in a world of take care of number one and me first. We seek our goals and our dreams. Anyone or anything that stands in our way has to go. We say we love, but we either lie or do not know what love is really about.  Love gives when it hurts! We are told about the widows mite. Widows were terribly poor in Biblical times and yet this woman loved God and trusted Him so much that she gave the last coins that she had. That woman knew where her daily bread came from and she lived her faith.

David was told to make an altar at the threshing floor of a man named Araunah to atone for his sin of numbering the people. Araunah was willing to give David everything he needed to build the altar and make the sacrifice. But, David replied, “Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing.” (2 Sam 24:18-25) David could have accepted the gift of this man in an effort to make God happy and yet not lose anything. Love does not count the costs. It just gives.

II Cor. 8:1-5 tells us of the love the Church of Macedonia had for the poor. They were a poor church and yet they gave freely for the collection for the poor that Paul was taking up. They as a church followed the example of the widow’s mite and gave more they than would have been expected. They gave more than what rational business minded people would have said they should. They had to do it. Love gives when it hurts.

I Corinthians 13 tells us that true love cannot be selfish! In Acts 20:18-38,Paul is saying goodbye to the folks from Ephesus. He was on his way to Jerusalem where he would be arrested and ultimately sent to Rome where he would die for the faith. He would never see those people that loved him so dearly again.

He could have had it made! Paul could have said, “You know if I stay at Ephesus, I can set up a Bible College and train hundreds to go into the ministry whereas if I take my current path I will end up dead in a foreign land.” How many more books could God have used him to write? That is our thinking. It was neither in God’s nor Paul’s heart. He was on a mission. He had to fulfil it though it cost him freedom and a nasty death. He could not give into to any selfish desires. He loved and gave although it hurt.

Finally, we build our relationship to Jesus by being mature! Much of the problem with Christians today is that we are not mature. Maturity is stable. Eph 4:11-16 tells us that the purpose of church leaders and discipleship is to make us perfect/mature so that we can do the work of the ministry that Christ has called us to do.

If you take a child into the candy store and tell him he can only have one or two items, you may be there for quite a long time as he makes a decision. If you do this, be sure you have the patience for it. He knows his favorites, but he sees some new things and the urge to go with what he knows fights his desire to try new things. Should he take one old favorite and one new treat or two new or two old ones. He really wants one of everything.

Today, we have a veritable candy store of theology and doctrines. Some are old favorites and trustworthy. Some are new and appealing, but the newness is just wrapping and merchandising. It is the same old doctrine. Some seem exciting, but are bound to give you a stomachache. Others are clearly seen as poison to a mature eye.

Because many Christians lack maturity, they are tossed to and fro like the eyes of that child in the candy store. They know some of the trustworthy doctrines, but there are so many exciting and gloriously wrapped ones out there. They want to try them. Often they do, in spite of warnings from other Christians who are older or may have been sickened by some of the things they are lusting after. They try them anyway and when they get a stomachache or worse they blame God and the Church and stay at home sulking.
They are not mature. If they were mature in their relationship with Jesus, they would have been able to discern good and evil and avoided their problems. (Heb 5:11-14) If they did made a mistake, their maturity would have helped them deal better with their mistakes and problems.

You see maturity handles problems effectively! We have church splits often because Christians do not handle their problems in a mature manner. There are times when it is best to find another place of worship or service. There should never be times of great controversy and bitterness. If you cannot resolve issues of conscience or other disagreements then you should just quietly go and find the place God has for you.

Ps 133:1-3
1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
3 As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. (KJV)

It is the most pleasant thing for the brethren to dwell in unity. However, I have never known a family that did not have disagreements. Disagreements are fine. Sometimes, you can resolve them by further communication. Sometimes, you agree to disagree. Sometimes, you have to be like Whitefield and Wesley and agree to minister in separate fields without throwing rocks at each other. By developing your relationship with Jesus and becoming mature, you learn how to resolve problems effectively.
Blessed are the peacemakers! Maturity loves, is tolerant without compromise of conviction. It does not backbite. It does not bicker or seek to place blame. Love trusts

Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. (KJV)

Trust here means to wait in hope realizing God’s sovereignty. That takes maturity. Are you trusting in Him? It takes a good relationship to do that. Are you building that relationship by being committed or are you on the roller coaster of feelings? Are you obeying the Head like a body should? Are you selfish or giving even if it hurts? Are you mature and stable or bouncing from one thrilling thing to the next? Are you handling problems effectively?

How you answer these questions will tell you where you are in your relationship to Jesus. What you do with the answers will affect your future. May you build well!


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