Posts Tagged ‘NLT’

Recently it was brought up at my church, and also the next day on Facebook, the question of “how do I develop a real relationship with Christ?”

Like any relationship we choose to have, it takes time.  A close friendship doesn’t happen overnight.  It happens slowly, over a period of time, as you get to know each other and as you live life, going through the good and bad times. We’d never dream of walking up to someone and just telling them we’d like to be their new B.F.F., so why would we think having a close, personal relationship with Jesus be any different in terms of how it starts out?

Jesus is totally different in who He is, because He is God. The one and only God who created our world and everything in it and because of that, He can be anywhere and everywhere at the same time.  He literally lives in the body of all of His believers. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty awesome trait for a B.F.F. to have.  If you need Him, He is as “right there” as you could ever ask for a B.F.F. to be!  Not to mention, the most important part of having a relationship with Jesus Christ, which is the fact that He took all the punishment for every single wrong thing you’ve ever done, or thought about doing, and paid the price of that for you.  I’ve never in my life had a friend that would even consider paying the price for my every single wrong doing, never mind wrong thinking.

When you first start a relationship with Jesus, there are many things you can do to build the relationship into a close one.  Anytime you meet a potential friend you want to get to know them, and the same is true for Jesus.  You can do that by reading and studying your Bible.  Really get in there and get to know Him through the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  A lot of people I’ve talked to prefer reading the New Testament part of the Bible, but once you’ve read the Gospels,  it’s important to read, and study, in the Old Testament so that you can get a better understanding of what Jesus did for you (for us all) on the cross.

People often tend to view the cross as, “Oh yeah… Jesus died for my sins, so now I’m forgiven” and don’t really understand fully, or appreciate fully, exactly what that means.  When you read about the Israelites and all the things that they had to go through to become “right with God”, you’ll begin to have a better understanding and appreciation for what Jesus did for you.

If you have a hard time reading your Bible, it may be time for a new version.  My personal favorite is the New Living Translation (NLT), but other popular versions are the Amplified Bible (AMP), New International Version (NIV), and the New King James Version (NKJV).  There are many other versions out there that you may like, so use a Bible App, such as “YouVersion“, and test them out to see which one suits you the best.  Reading and studying the Bible on a regular basis is extremely important to building up a real relationship with your Savior.

Prayer is the most important part of building your relationship with Jesus.  Prayer is spending time with Him, talking to Him, and listening to Him.  It’s how we can let Him know how very thankful we are for all He did on the cross for us, and all He continues doing for us.  It’s a time when we can bring issues up that we need His help with, and our fears, hopes, questions, dreams, and requests.  It’s also a time when we can simply sit in His presence and allow Him time to “speak” to us.  It may feel a bit strange in the beginning, but in no time at all you’ll begin to treasure this time with the Lord.

Everyone is different, but I prefer to start my day out with Jesus through prayer and reading my Bible.  I feel it helps me to get my day started in the right mindset.  What you’re thinking is very important in the life of a Christian.  In 2 Corinthians 10:5 Paul tells us, “We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” (NLT)  You must begin to get control of your thoughts in order to mature in a relationship with Jesus.  Our thoughts end up being our actions.  The Bible tells us that, As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7  and in John 15:15,16  Jesus tells us – No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing;  but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.    You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed  you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.  (NLT)

John didn’t mean for us to become orange or apple trees.  In the Bible, when Jesus and the disciples used the metaphors comparing us to fruit bearing trees, they were teaching us that, like an apple tree bears only apples and not cherries, we as Christians should bear good fruit.  In Galatians 5:22 we see that good fruit is listed as being love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Galatians 5:16 tells us, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives.  Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.”  

As a new Christian, it’s important that you learn all you can about the Lord and what it means to be one of His followers.  James, who was Jesus’ brother, writes in James 4:4-10 ~  You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God?  I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy?  But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires.  As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.”  So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Come close to God, and God will come close to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. 

When you became a Christian, you became a new person.  2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us ~ This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  This is such an amazing truth!  You are no longer the old you, but instead are now His, and because of that, you are given a brand new life!

As you learn more about God and His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, you will be in awe of the incredible gift of LOVE that we are given.  God gives us a helper, in the Holy Spirit, who comes to live inside of you when you become a Christian and true follower of Christ.  Ephesians 4:21 – 24 tells us ~ Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy. 

You have a new life, a new nature, and a new best friend forever (B.F.F.) – Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:1-2   Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. 

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  In June of this year, I had a really rough, emotionally draining, morning. Arguments with my husband (mainly me being upset because he doesn’t do emotional woman very well), issues with the kids, my own health being its usual problem (having Crohn’s Disease, Fibromyalgia, and Crohn’s related Arthritis as well as doctors suspecting Rheumatoid Arthritis), problems with our old house (electrical, plumbing, leaky roof and so on), the realization that the relationship with someone who I thought was my forever best friend was maybe not so forever, never mind so “best” after all; all of this taking its toll on me, building up, increasing the tension inside of me, threatening to explode over the sides with massive waves of tears. The whole rotten mess was leaving me feeling very sorry for myself, extremely sad, the whole “lost and alone” feeling…. Oh and forgotten… yeah… we don’t want to leave him out! Yuck. Yep… yuck to the whole darn thing.

On my way to work, I spent the time in prayer, crying out to God and asking (ok… pitifully begging) Him to please please please show me that He was “there for me”, that He was listening even when others either didn’t care, didn’t know my feelings, were clueless on how to do anything to help, or just plain terrified to come anywhere near me due to it being so obvious that this bomb was about to blow at any second. – I know all you women out there are probably thinking – P M S. Big time. Yes, there was probably a lot of that going on too. –

I got to work and was doing “ok”, all things considered, but was still just super in NEED of God, in NEED of a hug from Him, seriously bad.  The thought crossed my mind to just go to the ladies room and have a little moment alone, where, at least, the other employees or the customers wouldn’t be able to see me, so I could stop the faking of “Yes, everything in my life is going great and I feel great, and there’s nothing more that I want to do other than hear all about how Fluffy is being so bad by peeing on your super expensive carpet and you just KNOW that she knows better and could I please give you some MORE free advice on fixing this terrible terrible dog cause you know good and well you’ve done everything perfectly and therefore all “fault” lies strictly with Fluffy.”  By the way… I’m a professional dog trainer by trade – just in the event you were wondering what was up with the Fluffy rant. 🙂  Well, I ignored the thought and continued to listen to the various Fluffy stories and smiled as if I felt great. Pretending everything is great is really hard on days like that, isn’t it?

Finally, after the thought kept on and on and on bouncing around in my head, I decided that  I would indeed go hide out in the bathroom for a few minutes and when I got in there another thought hit me, strongly – Look at your favorite Bible app, now.  So, I looked at my YouVersion app and the verse of the day was from Isaiah 40.  It was Isaiah 40:26 to be exact, which says: (NLT) Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing. 

To fully understand the importance of that particular verse, you’d need to know that I love the Chris Tomlin song, “Indescribable” and that my favorite part are the lyrics that say: “Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God

I find the very thought that the Lord knows the names of ALL THE STARS to be so loving, so amazing, so… indescribably awesome.  Maybe this is partly because I do good to remember what I did an hour ago? Ha – seriously… isn’t our God totally awesome and amazing and incredible, as well as downright indescribable? Yes, why yes He is.

So, that day, when I read that verse I suddenly felt a bit better, but then……..

I read on……

O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint.    Isaiah 40:27-31 (NLT)

I felt so “hugged by God” in that moment.  He saw my immediate need and He gave me exactly what I needed – which wasn’t all of my problems being fixed for me, no… He gave me something even better – the knowledge, heart knowledge, that no matter how bad a day gets, no matter how hard relationships can be, and no matter who hurts me or deserts me, no matter what goes on in my life –

God, the Creator of everything, is right there with me.

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