Encouragement for Today - May 18, 2005


May 18

Encouragement for Today


“Do You Have a Religion or a Relationship?”

Melissa Taylor, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member


Key Verse:


Exodus 33:11, “… the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” (NLT)




If I could sum up the world’s problems in just one sentence, it would be this:  Most people do not have a relationship with the One True God.  Not to be over confident here, but I think the Mighty One Himself would agree with me!


You see, while most people say they do believe in God or a religion of some sort, few actually say that they have a relationship with God.  Why is that I wonder?  Could it be that a relationship is too personal, too close?  Could it be that relationships require something from both sides, in this case both you and God?  Does getting that close to the Lord scare you?  Can you be yourself when talking to Him or do you feel you have to speak a certain way and act high and mighty when you do it?


According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “relationship” means the state of being related.  In other words, connected.  This same source gives the meaning of “religion” as the service and worship of God or the super natural... devotion to a religious faith.  Notice the wording in devotion to a religious “faith”…it doesn’t say God.  There is a difference.


If you are relational, then you are mutually interested or involved.  It is totally a two-sided thing.  You can’t have a relationship alone.  God never meant for you to talk to Him, recite a prayer, sing a song, and that be the end of it.  He wants to speak to you too.  He wants you to speak to Him from your heart.  Nothing planned, doesn’t have to sound a certain way, no need for “proper” wording, just from your heart to God’s and from God’s heart to yours.


If you are religious, you are devoted to an acknowledged ultimate deity, you relate to religious beliefs, attitudes, and practices.  You might be a “member” of a religious order or denomination.  There is nothing wrong with being religious, but, oh, how God desires more from you than that!  You are missing out on living a life with meaning if you lack a relationship with God.


Allow me to clarify.  Just imagine that there is someone in your life who you greatly admire.  This is someone who could help you if you needed help.  This person had a lot of power and knowing them could really improve your life.  Would you:


Go once a week to a place where that person was, but there was also a lot of other people there too?  And maybe you would talk to them a few times a week only you would not give them any time to respond back to you.  Let’s say you could call on them anytime, but you only did in case of an emergency. 



Invite that person into your home and into your life so you could sit down, face-to-face with them?  You could express your feelings and thoughts anytime and anywhere without fear of being rejected. You would also have time to hear what they had to say too. And this would be important because this person was so wise and powerful. Because of this invested time by you, your life could drastically change.  You could have a peace that wasn’t there before, a joy in life that was previously absent.


Which do you want?  What I just described is the difference between having a religion and having a relationship with God. 


While religion and religious practices may have their place in our lives, I believe that God also wants a personal relationship with us.  God made us for a reason.  He didn’t have to, you know.  He chose to bring you and me into this world!  Wow!  Doesn’t that just blow your mind? 


God created you.  He had you planned before you were ever formed inside of your mother (Jeremiah 1:5).  He has a purpose and plan for you (Jeremiah 29:11).  Read through the Psalms and observe how real David was with God.  He went to God when he was happy, sad, angry, thankful, depressed, resentful, fearful, full of joy, or full of disgust.  David had a relationship with God.  God filled Him up and restored, rejuvenated, strengthened, and loved Him always.  David was far from perfect, but God didn’t mind.  I suspect that God was so glad that David realized his need for Him.


Is God someone in your life who you meet each Sunday morning at 11:00 in church, or can you confidently say that God is your friend?  It took me a while to be able to say that God was not just my Heavenly Father, but also my Friend.  I’ve found that the more time I spend with Him (by reading His Word, praying, talking, listening), the more balanced my life is.  I’m prepared for each day.  I can do all things because it is through Him that I gain strength (Philippians 4:13).  As the mother of four young children, my day gets crazy quick.  Much of what I plan never happens and the unexpected happens often!  The more time I’ve spent in God’s Word, the better equipped I am to handle whatever comes my way.  It’s pretty neat how it works that way!


My pastor often says that you can’t get to know God very well just by staring at the back of someone’s head once a week.  If you want to know God, he says, “you gotta spend some time with Him!”  And the more, the better!


Some people think they have to lead a near perfect life to talk to God.  They think that because of their past sins or poor decisions they are not worthy of being called a friend of God.  I used to be this way too.  I’d think, “Why would God want to waste His time with me?  All I do is let Him down.  He has better things to do with His time than listen to me.” 


Our great, mighty, and wonderful God desires a close, intimate, and personal relationship with us NO MATTER WHAT.  I love Exodus 33:11.  In this verse, it says that “the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”   He spoke to Moses “face to face” and he wants to do the same with you and me.  God is calling you to be His friend.  Will you answer that calling and trust Him with all of the details of your life?  Begin to pursue an ongoing and personal relationship with the Lord today.  It’s never too late!  If you do, I promise He will be the best Friend you ever make.


My Prayer for Today:


Dear God, thank you for your willingness to be my Friend!  Help me to get to know you better.  Give me a desire and thirst for Your Word.  I pray that the walls I’ve built up that keep me from getting closer to You would break apart and come down.  Give me the same comfort in speaking to You that David had.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Application Steps:


Set aside a time each day just for you and God.  Put it on your calendar.  Make a daily date with God and commit not to break it.  Bring your Bible, a notebook or journal, and a pen with you.  Write down what you learn, verses you want to remember, and words that you believe are being spoken just to you from God.  You will be amazed at the difference in your life as you get more comfortable sharing it with Him.


Reflection Points:


Am I afraid to know God better?


What is keeping me from having a relationship with God?


How am I spending my time?


Are my prayers to God hindered because I simply recite the same words over and over again or because I feel like I have to use certain “godly” words when I pray?


Do I speak to God straight from my heart?


Power Verses:


Psalm 5:3, “Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord.  Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.” (NLT)


James 4:8, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (NIV)


James 1:5, “But if any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it.  He is generous and enjoys giving to all people so He will give you wisdom.” (NCV)


John 15:15, “…I have called you friends.” (NIV)


Job 29:4, “In the early years, the friendship of God was felt in my home.” (NLT)


Additional Resources:


A Woman’s Secret to a Balanced Life, by Sharon Jaynes and Lysa TerKeurst



Who Holds the Key to Your Heart?, by Lysa TerKeurst



Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes



P31 Woman Magazine


Originally published Wednesday, 18 May 2005.