Sermons

Summary: Christianity is not a religion but a relationship with a loving God who desires an intimate relationship with us.

DURING THE 17TH CENTURY, OLIVER CROMWELL, LORD PROTECTOR OF ENGLAND, SENTENCED A SOLDIER TO BE PUT TO DEATH FOR HIS CRIMES. THE EXECUTION WAS TO TAKE PLACE AT THE RINGING OF THE EVENING CURFEW BELL.

HOWEVER, THE BELL DID NOT SOUND. THE SOLDIER’S FIANCÉ HAD CLIMBED INTO THE BELFRY AND CLUNG TO THE GREAT CLAPPER OF THE BELL TO PREVENT IT FROM STRIKING.

WHEN SHE WAS SUMMONED BY CROMWELL TO ACCOUNT FOR HER ACTIONS, SHE WEPT AS SHE SHOWED HIM HER BRUISED AND BLEEDING HANDS. CROMWELL’S HEART WAS TOUCHED AND HE WAS HEARD TO PROCLAIM, "YOUR LOVER SHALL LIVE BECAUSE OF YOUR SACRIFICE. CURFEW SHALL NOT RING TONIGHT!"

I THINK IT IS SAFE TO SAY THAT EVERYONE ABSOLUTELY ADORES A PASSIONATE AND GALLANT STORYLINE IN A LOVE STORY. ACCORDING TO “AMAZON.COM,” ROMANCE NOVELS ACCOUNT FOR 53% OF ALL MASS MARKET PAPERBACK BOOKS SOLD IN THE U.S. REACHING OVER ONE-BILLION DOLLARS IN ANNUAL SALES.

THE INTERESTING THING I FIND ABOUT ALL OF THESE STORIES AND THEIR ADVENTURES IS THAT ALL OF THEM ARE FICTION. YET, THE LURE OF THESE IMAGINARY TALES OF WHIRLWIND AFFECTION STILL MANAGE TO TOUCH MANY PEOPLES HEARTS.

IF WHAT IS IMAGINARY AND FICTION CAN PULL THE STRINGS OF OUR HEARTS AND UNFASTEN THE DOORS OF OUR IMAGINATION, WHAT MORE CAN ENFLAME OUR HEARTS AND BROADEN OUR LIVES OTHER THAN LIVING A REAL LOVE STORY OF HAVING A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AS OUR HEAVENLY FATHER?

I HOPE THAT ALL OF US ARE SEEKING A DEEPER RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD OUR HEAVENLY FATHER. WE CANNOT AFFORD TO LIVE OUR CHRISTIAN LIFE “RELIGIOUSLY” INSTEAD OF“RELATIONALLY.”

WE SHOULD THIRST FOR GOD. WE SHOULD BE CRAVING TO HAVE A VIBRANT, GROWING, INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. CRAVING INTIMACY WITH GOD IS SYNONOMOUS WITH WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN.

LISTEN TO THE WORDS OF DAVID, IN PSALM 27:4, “ONE THING I HAVE DESIRED OF THE LORD, THAT WILL I SEEK: THAT I MAY DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE, TO BEHOLD THE BEAUTY OF THE LORD, AND TO INQUIRE IN HIS TEMPLE.”

I HONESTLY DO NOT THINK YOU CAN BE TRULY HAPPY AND FILLED WITH JOY IF ALL YOU HAVE IS SUPERFICIAL SPIRITUALITY. WE MUST SEEK GOD MORE AND MORE. PSALM 42:1, “AS THE DEER PANTS FOR THE WATER BROOKS, SO PANTS MY SOUL FOR YOU, O GOD.”

THIS IS THE JOY OF BEING A CHRISTIAN IS DISCOVERING A LOVING, PERSONAL AND INTIMATE GOD WHO WANTS MORE THAN ANYTHING TO HAVE SUCH A RELATIONSHIP WITH US.

GOD GOES FAR AND ABOVE THE “NORM” TO INITIATE THIS INTIMATE CONNECTION WITH US. JUST CHECK IT OUT FOR YOURSELF: WHEN ADAM AND EVE SINNED IT WAS GOD WHO PURSUED AFTER THEM TO RESTORE THE LOST RELATIONSHIP (GENESIS 3:8-9).

GOD CAME TO NOAH (GENESIS 6:11-13). GOD CAME TO ABRAHAM (GENESIS 12:1-3). GOD CAME TO EACH OF THE PROPHETS (1 SAMUEL 3:1-11). GOD CAME THROUGH HIS SON JESUS TO THE TWO MEN ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS (LUKE 24:13-27). THROUGH JESUS, GOD CAME TO SAUL ON THE DAMASCUS ROAD (ACTS 9:1-6).

OUR LOVING FATHER HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE INITIATOR. JUST AS HE CAME TO SINFUL PEOPLE IN THE PERSON OF HIS SON, JESUS, TO REDEEM US, HE NOW COMES TO SAVED PEOPLE IN THE PERSON OF HIS HOLY SPIRIT, TO INDWELL US AND FILL US WITH INTIMACY.

WE CAN HAVE THIS RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD THE FATHER! WE CAN HAVE THIS CONNECTION WITH GOD IF WE WILL SIMPLY DO OUR PART WHICH IS TO FOSTER SUCH INTIMACY. AFTER ALL, ANY VIBRANT RELATIOHSHIP HAS TO HAVE TWO PEOPLE PURSUING EACH OTHER AND INTIMATELY RELATING TO ONE ANOTHER.

IF WE DESIRE TO PURSUE SUCH A RELATIONSHIP THEN LET US FIRST TRUST GOD THAT HE IS PURSUING US TOO! JEREMIAH 29:11, RECORDS GOD’S PROMISE: “FOR I KNOW THE THOUGHTS THAT I THINK TOWARD YOU…THOUGHTS OF PEACE AND NOT OF EVIL, TO GIVE YOU A FUTURE AND A HOPE.”

GOD WILL NEVER LIE TO YOU (TITUS 1:2); HE WILL NEVER GO BACK ON HIS WORD (NUMBERS 23:19); AND HE WILL NEVER CHANGE ON YOU (JAMES 1:17). SIMPLY PUT, GOD IS ABSOLUTELY STELLAR, ABSOLUTELY PERFECT, AND ABSOLUTELY TRUSTWORTHY. TRUST GOD BECAUSE HE ALWAYS HAS YOUR BEST INTERESTS AT HEART.

SECONDLY, IF WE DESIRE TO PURSUE INITIMACY WITH GOD, THEN WE MUST FIRST HAVE A RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. WE FIND THIS SIMPLE PRINCIPLE IN JAMES 4:8, “DRAW NEAR TO GOD AND HE WILL DRAW NEAR TO YOU.”

WE ENSURE OUR LIVES OUR RIGHT BEFORE GOD BY ALLOWING REPENTANCE TO BE A HEALTHY PART OF OUR LIVES. WE CAN MOVE CLOSER TO GOD BY REMOVING ANY SINFUL OBSTACLE THAT COMES IN BETWEEN US. JAMES 4:8-10, “CLEANSE YOUR HANDS, YOU SINNERS; AND PURIFY YOUR HEARTS, YOU DOUBLE-MINDED…HUMBLE YOURSELVES IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD, AND HE WILL LIFT YOU UP.”

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