A Relationship with God is First
A Relationship with God is First
There is a drastic difference between things or people that represent God, and the living God. What do I mean? I am glad you asked. We are ambassadors for Christ, and we represent God. We are not the same in reality, no matter how great a representative we may be, our lives consist of conforming into the image of God through Christ Jesus. We are striving to be as Christ, but we have not arrived.
In all honesty and in exercising my integrity, I know I'd never desire to encourage anyone to trust in me in the same way that I would encourage them to trust in God. At my best, I am not capable of giving them all that they may need. I am aware of my limitations, and at the same time, I know the power of intercessory prayer. I can direct them to God in prayer for all that is needed, and pray that all that they need He supplies.
I love to help people, love to see them healed, encouraged, edified, built up and all that is good become their reality. However, I know there has to be lines of demarcation and that I must realize when and where to draw the line. There has to be a definite distinguishing factor that assists me in understanding the difference between the representative of God that I am, and being the living God, which I am not.
You will better understand this point and stance by the end of this hub. I pause now to acknowledge the Holy Spirit to help me communicate what has been revealed and inspired in my heart. I ask that He would grant you insight and understanding as well.
Representative or Relationship
I used to have a cross when I first got saved which I never took off of my neck. It represented Christ to me. Until one day I was quickened to remove the cross from my neck. I didn't understand at the time, however to rely on that emblem in the way I did wasn't very healthy. I rebuked and denounced what I was hearing about my cross, but after receiving all that I am writing, I took it off.
My attitude was like what you would see in a Dracula movie, someone clutching or reaching for their cross. In the movie it had the power to send the blood sucker on his way. In reality, we use the blood and the name of Jesus bind evil. Looking back in retrospect. I was being taught that my faith could not be in symbols or emblems, but in the living Lord of the cross. I was secretly trusting in that object to protect me and to keep me from danger and harm, and it was an object that didn't have the power to do that, only Jesus Christ does. The cross I was wearing became an idol I was abhorring; and the law of liberty which the Holy Spirit gives had to show me that the cross merely was a representation and not Christ. There is a drastic difference between something that represents Christ, and a relationship with Christ.
"For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world" (1 Corinthians 11:31-32).
We should always appreciate, be grateful, and even love good representation of God, but we must also differentiate between them and cleave to God.
"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-13).
All of the above are treasures and represent God; some we may be blessed to have an ongoing relationship with and some we may have to treasure from a distance. In the interim we must first establish or have an established ongoing relationship with God and place a premium on all that we are taught, but we must also know the difference between representation and God alone.
The five-fold ministry gifts were not given to us to substitute for a relationship with God; they lead us into, point us towards, inspire us unto a real and true relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Word and Holy Spirit. A good question to ask oneself about anything desired is why do I want it? Is it going to veer me away from my relationship with the Godhead?
We are blessed to have a one on one, heart to heart relationship with God because Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit represent God. The prophets and the five-fold ministry gifts represent God before the people. because they are the ones who speak for God to the people as His representatives; as opposed to the priests who represents the people before God; and we are called a royal priesthood who intercede for the people before God. We can pray individually today, and directly to God only because of Jesus shed blood. The high priests stood in this office once a year on behalf of all the people. The prophets and priests had a relationship with God, but the people individually did not. All praises to Jesus that we can come boldly before the throne of grace, and receive mercy in the time of need.
Stop right here, give thanks and praises to God for your individual relationship with Him, it is worth more than all the silver and gold. Shout, Hallelujah!
A Symbol doesn't Qualify Relationship
"And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies" (1 Samuel 4:3).
Why did they want the ark of God? They thought it was able to save them from their enemies. Sound familiar, yep! that was what I was doing with my golden cross. Instead of trusting in God to save them, they were confiding in something that represented the presence of God as well, and not in God himself. Ask yourself, do I have any representatives clouding my relationship with God, the Holy Spirit will let you know.
So what were the contents of the Ark of the Covenant according to the Bible? In Hebrews 9:1-5 we read, "Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place.
Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now."
Jesus is both a representative of God and He is God. We can never go wrong with believing in Him. The ark became to Israel what only God could be. In all reality the ark had no saving power, it only represented God's presence among them. Jesus has all saving power and He represents God's presence; He is Emmanuel, God with us. We must also be ever so thankful for a thriving relationship with God, because that was not the case for each individual person in the story.
This is graphic for us today, trusting in things and people which represent God and not in Him alone. Tradition, doctrines, teachings, tapes, books, videos, church work, five-fold ministry gifts, which are all good things and blessings, but are not meant to substitute for God, but to enhance and magnify Him in our relationships and in our hearts. We would all do good to trust in God alone. This stance doesn't mean that we depreciate others, but it does mean we understand and know the difference. We need discernment to distinguish between what represents Him and God; so that we can live in victory and not merely experience victory.
I am not suggesting in any way, form or fashion that all the things we need for maturing in God are not essential, what I am saying is that they are things which represent God, but none are equal to Him. Neither can any be used to substitute for God. There are times in our lives when we experience opposition, oppression and adversity just as Israel in the passage above, we may turn to other things and people which represent God and His presence to save us. Nevertheless there is only one Savior Jesus Christ.
In the account in1 Samuel 4-8, after sending for the Ark of the Covenant from Shiloh where it was kept. When the Ark of the Covenant came into the camp, all Israel shouted, with a great shout, so that the earth rang again. Why didn't they shout when they were smitten by the Philistines? How come we don't shout in the midst of our trials? Understanding and knowing that God has promised never to leave or forsake us. The valley is a place of reflection and where we can receive chastisement to proceed towards victory. Why must we always experience victory before we are willing to praise God? Isn't He worthy even in the valley and in the midst of the storm? or do we deem Him worthy on the other side of the storm? Do we only deem God worthy when we are on the mountaintop? Isn't He the same God even when we are in the valley?
Could it be that we neglect praise in the midst of trials because we are trusting in some idol to save us? Putting our trust in things and people which represent God rather than in His sovereignty alone, everything else equals idolatry. I can see how every account in Scripture is for our admonition and is of great gain for insight and counsel in seeing how these things came about and how they turned out. Every biblical account is for a reason and is not a bunch of stories we enjoy reading.
There are warnings in Scripture given about trusting in the arms of flesh or anything other than God.
Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin" (Isaiah 30:1).
I encourage you to put your trust in a solid foundation Jesus Christ, so that when the storms of life beat against your house, you will know, that you know, that you have built your house upon a sure foundation. Ensure that your primary roots go deep in Christ. Plant your secondary roots in other good soil where representation follows relationship as prerequisite and foundational, but ascertain that your foundation is sure.
Lord, Rebuke, Reprove, and Chastise
The Lord rebukes, reproves, and chastises those whom He loves, so when reproved by Him I will consider it an honor, because if He doesn’t rebuke me in errant ways, He says that I am not His child but an orphan. In retrospect, I can remember a certain rebuke by Him. I had allowed a vision to consume me.
This was a vision that He had not originally inspired in me, but to someone who represents Him. I caught sight of it and became totally involved and absorbed, but this vision infringed upon my personal fellowship with the Lord. Winds began to assail against me contrary to all that I believe and I was put in a position where I had to either compromise my convictions, and just go along for the ride. I have learned a tremendous lesson. I’ve learned that fellowship with the Lord is an emphatic and a must, and it has to be put first and foremost. I have to spend the time it takes with Him to reveal to me, and inspire in me, His divine will for my life, so that I am not lured away by visions, which appear to be something they really are not.
Sometimes when we are asked to participate in whatever it may be, we can get so involved that it consumes us, and we faint from weariness. I exhort anyone who will take heed, know that you know what God is calling you to do, so that you can do it effectively and with confidence, so that you are not taken on a joy ride which turns out not to be fun at all. Be concerned with being an effective instrument, not just an instrument.
I could use a pair of dull scissors to cut with and they will eventually do the job, but it will take more time and energy than if I were to use a pair of sharp scissors. We must spend quality time in a personal way with God, it is too important not to make a priority. I have also learned that the Lord knows me better than I know myself, what I desire at times is not convenient, although it may be permissible. I really do encourage you, seek God for His will and plan for your life, so that you don’t accept anything else.
We can be sidetracked, looking to the left and to the right and we need to look straight ahead. I am convinced that He desires us to know what His good, acceptable and perfect will is. I desire His perfect will for my life that is my choice because I trust that He knows what is best for me and for you as well.
I have been on earth for several decades, and what I had accepted as living wasn’t even life, but the death which were the wages sin paid. So I am thoroughly convinced and persuaded that God knows what is best for every believer. I didn’t even know how to live, until Jesus showed up and revealed that He is the life. Everything that I am is because of Him. It was Jesus who taught me how to be a lady, and that I don’t have to accept just any quality of life and that I could indeed live the abundant life He offers.
Don’t allow anyone or anything to crowd your fellowship with the Father, Jesus never did and we are taking up our crosses and following Him, right? I don’t care what it may be, remind yourself that God is first and He is worthy of your undivided attention. It is an honorable attempt to have the mind and desire to serve Him, how we are to serve, and what we are called to serve in. It is all about what is on the Lord’s program. How can I fill a need? Use me to fill a need, Lord use me to answer a prayer, Fill me to use me, let Your anointing flow through me, not always Lord I have needs.
Quality time spent with God produces quality decisions, intents, motives, desires, attitudes and it produces quality people of character who manifest as a result of that proper time we spend in His presence.
Thanks be unto God who always cause us to triumph in Christ Jesus, even when we fall short of His glory, He lovingly rebukes us and shows us the error of our ways. He progressively reveals His will, but we must be available to receive our daily portion. He knows what is in our hearts. It was the Holy Spirit who reminded me of a desire that was in my heart, I was so consumed in other things, I didn’t even remember this desire, but because it was in my heart, He hadn’t forgotten. God will fulfill our desires when they are centered around and in Him, as we keep our minds and hearts stayed on Him.
I am still learning to put my priorities in order. Now I must learn how to keep them in order. As I keep my attention focused on who He is and what He has done, everything else is falling into place. I lovingly admonish you do not despise the chastisement of the Lord, because He loves us with an everlasting love. Besides only a fool despises the instruction of the Lord.
May the presence of the Honorable Godhead be your reality today and always in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.