Is God close to You?
by Wayne Childress
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Is God close to You?
You may think you are close to God. But, is God close to you? There are innumerable studies that have been, and are being done, concerning the Bible and Jesus. Regretfully, much of what these studies focus on is irrelevant to having a meaningful relationship with God and being a follower of Jesus as the Christ and as your Lord. You can know all there is to know about biblical history, biblical archaeology, linguistics, etc and it won’t save you. You can know every word in every version of every Bible and it won’t save you. You could even talk to God and Jesus face to face and it would not save you. Some folks are probably shocked by this; and, they are wondering “who is this guy to say such things”? We know from the Bible that Satan knows all the above very well and has actually talked to both God and Jesus. Is Satan to be saved? No, he is not.
So, what is my point in saying all this? Quite simply, Satan fails because he will not worship his creator - God. He also fails to be saved because He will not follow Jesus. Will you worship your creator - God? Will you too fail to be saved because you will not follow Jesus? Does God tell us we must learn everything about Him so we can understand Him? He says we must worship Him - and only Him. He also tells us how to worship Him - through love and obedience to Him. We know how to love and obey Him because He tells us what he wants and expects from us. We also know what He wants and expects from us because He sent us a perfect example to follow - Jesus.
What we need to know is how to build a meaningful relationship based on the worship of God. When it comes to learning how to build something people vary in the manner in which they learn best. Some learn best by reading the general guidelines, some by reading step by step instructions, some by having a pattern or blueprint to follow, others by seeing someone else building the desired object. God has covered every one of these bases for teaching us.
We have the Old Testament for a general guideline. God also gave us the Ten Commandments as a basic set of beginner’s step by step instructions. Jesus put these instructions into practice. The way He led His life is a pattern or blueprint for us to follow; and, as with any good blueprint, Jesus came with additional detailed instructions and explanations. We can see someone else building this relationship by, hopefully, looking at those who truly are trying to be followers of Christ.
An example is from Exodus 20:8: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (See Note1). This is a basic step from the step by step instructions we call the Ten Commandments. This step tells us what to do but doesn’t provide a lot of details. What should we do to follow this instruction? We can get a little more information by doing more reading in the general guidelines. We learn that we should remember to get all our grocery shopping done before the Sabbath; and, that we should prep our meals for the Sabbath day beforehand. Why? Because the Sabbath is a holy day; and, we should “remember it” by getting ready for it. Before you go on a trip somewhere you should usually try to get some things done beforehand - i.e. pack what you need, get the transportation sorted out, etc. The Sabbath is a “trip” we take with God every week and should be planned for too. It is a day for us to rest and share with God. That means “remembering it” by planning for it.
Our analogy of a trip shows the important aspect of having a pattern or blueprint. Not everybody takes a trip in the same way. Jesus showed us that the Pharisees had erred by trying to force everyone to do it their way. Jesus showed us, and told us, that the most important part of the trip was its purpose. It shouldn’t be like a dreaded business trip where you are in a lockstep itinerary laid out by a boss. It should be as a long awaited outing with a loved one; and, so important that you would regret not being able to do it. A trip so cherished you don’t want to waste time with the ordinary chores of daily life. The Sabbath, if remembered in this way, is indeed kept holy - without being a “burden”.
This is what God appears, to me, to want - obedience from love. Anyone who has been in a close loving relationship knows that a special getaway trip can be nice, but, what makes the trip so special is merely having the intimate time together away from the normal cares and worries of the world. For a road trip that means making sure the car is road worthy and ready to go. It doesn’t mean you can’t change a flat tire if you have one; and, it doesn’t mean you can’t be nice and help somebody else if they have a flat tire.
Most of us, especially as either a child or as a parent, have had an event in our lives that we really wanted to share with a loved one - a school play, a ballgame, a graduation, an anniversary. Most of us have also, to our regret, missed one of these events. Do you remember the heartbreak of that - when you, or that special someone, missed that special event. Now imagine how God feels every time you miss the special event He created and planned to share with you - the Sabbath.
In Brotherly Love,
Note1 - The Sabbath is still the seventh day - Saturday. Sunday, which many believe is the Lord’s Day is not, nor ever has been, the Sabbath. Sunday worship is great. It would be great if we did that every day; but, it does not change what God established. God’s feelings on this are clear:
Isaiah 29:13 - “The Lord says: These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”
Are you taking the trip on the day God planned, or are you telling God he has to fit your schedule?
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It might be a good idea for you to read in the Bible: Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace are ye saved and that not of yourselves: It is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast." It is the Cross which saves us. Ethel C. Pechman