June 25, 2003
Main Thought: To understand that the beauties of relationship outshines the benefits of ritual.
Rich in Ritual or Relationship?
To be rich in that which makes us complete is happiness indeed! We all love for our lives to stand out and be noticed like lights shining in the darkness. But, there is a difference between making your light shine and allowing it to shine. First off, thank the Lord for those in our world, communities, families, and individuals around us who have learned the rewards of self-discipline. But, woe to those who have not gone beyond the temporary rewards that ritual brings us into the everlasting joys that relationships bring.
There are those of us who have learned that when we eat less junk and exercise more that we can actually have the bodies that we’ve dreamed about. Again there are those who have learned that when we shake off the tendency to be lazy and wake up and be disciplined when it comes to working hard that its rewards (although temporal) can be quite satisfying within this temporary world we live in. Unfortunately, many of us allow our vision to stop there and can’t see that there is higher plane of existence that is actually more important than the plane of plain old-fashioned hard work and discipline and that is relationship! Please note the following verses that Christ Himself spoke; Matthew 25:31- 46 31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' 37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' 41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' 44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' 45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' 46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Please note the sheep’s response in verses 37-39. They were asking when did they do all those wonderful things that Christ said that they had done. And then take note of what the goat’s response was in verse 44 to what Christ spoke to them, when DIDN’T we do those things that you said we didn’t do.
You know it’s funny that we don’t take more time to examine this very important scripture text for goats look a lot like sheep but they just aren’t. They may be the same height, eat the same food, and in all respects look very much the same, but the facts remain the same. We as people are funny, show us Christ who is God and we say, “we can be like that.” Show us His revelations as to what sheep look like, those who delight in giving of themselves, their time, their money, their talents, even doing things like tithing, baptism, confession, and faithful attendance of services with those that profess to know Him. But, being a sheep doesn’t come from the outward actions no more than being God’s child. We presently live in a world that is filled with things of the physical realm and so our tendency is when we learn of spiritual truths to try and apply them by our flesh. So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty. (Whole Chapter: In context: ) Many of us see God and see that His works are good but many of us think that we can put on godliness like putting on a change of clothes and yet, until we realize that our ways are totally opposite of God’s ways and that our righteousness is like filthy rags in His site there remains no hope. All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Whole Chapter: In context: ) This is why there will be no braggarts in Heaven. There will be absolutely nothing to brag about but the infinite Loving Kindness and Mercy of God upon us!
And yet many times, even after we’ve come to realize that we’re lost and undone and need Him and have accepted His forgiveness, we’ll get right back up in the flesh and try to live for Christ by the arm of the flesh and not the Spirit of God; Galations 3:3-5 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing--if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? God’s desire is to reward us bountifully when we get to Glory, but unfortunately, many people’s rewards will be few due to the fact that they haven’t exercised the walk by faith and not be sight. And it will be even sadder yet for those who began the walk of faith to end up following after things of satan; The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. (Whole Chapter: In context: ) To abandon the faith, means that they had to have it to begin with.
What amazes me is the many ways we’ve devised to do our own thing and not Gods. He opens our hearts and minds to reveal His love and the first thing we know, we’re trying to live for Him from our heads and not our hearts, or from our works and not our love for Him – how very sad. These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. (Whole Chapter: In context: ) Again, thank God for the routines we’ve developed within our lives with each other and with Him but if our lives stop short of relationships by getting hung up on our routines than we’ve short changed our own reward; Romans 8:13-14 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. God’s Word is Spirit and Truth, we need to spend time as Mary at His Feet listening to His Voice for it’s only by the hearing of His Word that the lies of satan are exposed and grace is given to overcome. 2 Peter 1:2&3 2Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: And, another good verse is So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Whole Chapter: In context: )
It’s only when we learn how to humble our hearts before Him and listen to His voice that He can reveal His heart to us. The problem usually is that we don’t take the time to listen and so we end up missing out on the fulfilling walk of relationship with Him and end up living an empty life of ritual. That Blessed old Hymn “I come to the Garden alone” was birthed out of one who learned the joy of relationship “I come to the garden alone and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known!” How very very true! How God desires America to return to the rock from which she was hewn and come back into a living, loving relationship with Him. We need to repent from having started this nation trusting in His Power and Grace to live our lives to relying on our own abilities and talents like Galations 3:3-5 states above.
O Lord, please forgive this nation in which You have had much delight and which has taken Your Love and Blessings and turned them into works of men’s own righteousness which is but filthy rags in Your sight. Help us Lord to seek Your face once again and to return to the Blessed Loving relationship that we so desperately need. In Jesus Blessed Holy Name, Amen.
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