New Hope Notes
Returning To The Relationship
Pastor Jonathan Smith
Please join me in my favorite two line prayer: “Lord speak to my heart. And change my life.”
I was once asked to do the praise and worship at a church service – just me and my guitar. It was a big deal so I spent a lot of time getting ready. I bought a new microphone and stand. I packed up my equipment carefully in the car – speakers, cables, and even extra batteries! I arrived at the church three hours early to set up. Once all my equipment was set up exactly right, I went to pick up my guitar and guess what? It wasn’t anywhere to be found! I forgot my guitar – the most important thing…and I forgot it.
We’re like that sometimes, aren’t we? We can get so caught up in the details of the Christian but we forget the main thing. What is that main thing anyway? Is it love? God commands us to love another as we love ourselves, so is that the main thing? Or is it Faith? All things are possible if we just believe. Or is reaching out to others the main thing? God calls us to help those who are less fortunate. All of these are important but what is the main thing?
To understand that, we need to go all the way back to the time of Adam and Eve. God created Adam and Eve but for what? God created them to be in relationship and fellowship with Him – in personal, intimate, and wonderful relationship with Him. That is the main thing…to understand that…
· I was created and designed for relationship with God.
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
This passage clearly states that it is in our relationship with Christ where we will bear much fruit. And apart from Him, we can do nothing! Sometimes we get caught up in Christianity (e.g., the music, the act of communion, and even the ministries) but we leave God in the dust. Why is that? Well, this can happen easily because…
“But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your mind should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:3)
Our minds get led astray because that same serpent is still around today. On the other hand, the serpent’s main thing is to lead us off track. So how do we return to a relationship with Christ? The first thing to do is…
1. STOP MAKING CHRISTIANITY SO COMPLICATED!
· It’s simple.
If you find yourself astray…run back to Him.
We have a tendency to overanalyze things to death! For example: Have you ever tried to figure out the Trinity? Or asked yourself, “Why would He do that for me?” Or have you ever tried to figure out the balance sheet of grace – why God would do that for you after all that you’ve done to Him?
The error here is that we often think of our relationship with Christ as performance-based (like we do with people) but that’s not how God is. I like the way my wife says it, “There’s nothing so great that you can do to have God love you more; but there’s also nothing so horrible that you can do to make God love you any less!”
We try not so sin yet we do it over and over again. Some of us get so frustrated in trying (and failing to change) that we give up. But do you really want to change? If so, get back to the simple life with Him. Return to that relationship and live moment by moment with Him. When you do that, it’s so cool because He’s always with you; you’re never alone. You’ll never have to face or do anything on your own again. It’s simple and…
· It’s Pure.
You live in the relationship first and foremost, and change will happen. God said this, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Rev. 2:4). Imagine this:
You’re at the end of a long road line with buildings on either side, and Jesus is by your side. You can see your goal (God’s goal for you) at the end of the street. There’s nothing in the road to block your path but there are beings (enemies) in the buildings who are trying to distract you from traveling down to your goal.
Life is like Jesus and you walking down your path but you turn your head to listen to the beings in the buildings and then it’s as if a curtain has been drawn between yourself and Jesus, and you can’t hear Him anymore. The next thing you know, you’ve stepped off of the path and left Jesus standing in the street. Jesus hasn’t gone anywhere but you’ve left Him standing in the street. Then, when you realize what you’ve done, you want to go back but you feel too guilty so you don’t. This is exactly what the enemy wanted. The enemy’s goal is to slow you down, or better yet…have you step off the path, and stop traveling down the street to the abundant life that awaits you.
Why does the enemy use distraction so much? Because it works! I’m the King of Distraction. When I’m up here on stage, I struggle with keeping focused and not wandering off on tangents. I’m sure we all struggle with distraction but I want to say one thing to all of the single people out there, “Chill!” Remember that God wants you to be in relationship with Him before you work on your relationship with anyone else.
So stop making Christianity so complicated and return to the relationship: it’s simple and it’s pure.
Revelation 3:15-16 says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” But what makes people lukewarm? Pride. Their pride makes them lukewarm.
“Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” (Rev. 3:17)
We can be a lot like that sometimes because we think that we “can handle.” But the Bible says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,…” (Matt. 5:3). This scripture calls out the fact that only when we know our need do we press into our relationship with the Lord. So, in addition to not making Christianity so complicated, to return to the relationship by asking God (or the Holy Spirit) to:
2. DEAL WITH MY PRIDE!
Ask the Holy Spirit to deal with your pride or remove it altogether. You can’t deal with pride issues on your own (and if you think you can – that’s pride!). Ask the Holy Spirit to help you because that is the only way that it can be done. You can’t do it on your own.
Are you sensing that you’re missing the depth of relationship with Him? Are you lukewarm and afraid of what’s in store for you? Well after God said that He’d spit them out, He didn’t. In fact, this is what He said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20).
After all of that, God called them back to Him…back to a relationship with Him.
3. RESPOND TO JESUS
Are you an “anyone”? Assuming so…you qualify! God said, “If hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him…” Do you sense Him calling you? You qualify!
Today’s message was to remind us to keep the “main thing” the main thing, and that thing is a personal, intimate, and vibrant relationship with God. We were created and designed for a relationship with Him but oftentimes we lose our focus. Even when we’re involved in a lot of Christian activities, we can lose sight of what’s really important – our relationship with Him – because of busyness and such. Stop making Christianity so complicated and enjoy its simplicity and purity. Deal with your pride; ask the Holy Spirit to help you with it. Then lastly, respond to Jesus and open the door…TansferNOW.
I can’t think of a better way to declare our commitment to God than through communion. Please join us as we partake of communion today.
1. What did you think was the “main thing”? What do you think about your relationship with God as the main thing?
2. How do you make Christianity complicated? How are you going to make it simple?
3. What other words would you use to describe your relationship with God?
4. How has pride affected your relationship with God? Share an example if you can.
5. Is Jesus knocking on your door today or have you already opened the door? Please explain.