You are called to belong, not just believe!
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Ephesians 2:19
We are created for community, fashioned for fellowship, and formed for a family, and none of us can fulfill God’s purposes by ourselves. The Bible says we are put together, joined together, built together, members together; heirs together, fitted together, and held together and will be caught up together. You’re not on your own anymore.
While your relationship to Christ is personal, God never intends it to be private. In God’s family you are connected to every other believer, and we will belong to each other for eternity. The Bible says, “In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5 (NIV
The Christian life is more than just commitment to Christ; it includes a commitment to other Christians. The Christians in Macedonia understood this. Paul said, “First, they gave themselves to the Lord; and then, by God’s will, they gave themselves to us as well.” 2 Corinthians 8:5 (TEV)
You become a Christian by committing yourself to Christ, but you become a church member by committing yourself to a specific group of believers. The first decision brings salvation; the second brings fellowship.
Point to Ponder: I am called to belong, not just believe.
Verse to Remember: “In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5 (NIV)
Question to Consider: Does my level of involvement in my local church demonstrate that I love and am committed to God’s family?
Life is all about love!
“Love means living the way God commanded us to live. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is this: Live a life of love.” 2 John 1:6 (NCV)
Because God is love, the most important lesson he wants you to learn on earth is how to love. It is in loving that we are most like him, so love is the foundation of every command he has given us. “The whole Law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love others as you love yourself.” Galatians 5:14 (LB)
Of course, God wants us to love everyone, but he is particularly concerned that we learn to love others in his family. Why does God insist that we give special love and attention to other believers? Here’s why – God wants his family to be known for its love more than anything else. Jesus said our love for each other—not our doctrinal belief—is our greatest witness to the world. He said, “Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are My disciples.” John 13:35 (LB)
In heaven we will enjoy God’s family forever, but first we have some tough work to do here on earth to prepare ourselves for an eternity of loving. God trains us by giving us “family responsibilities,” and the foremost of these is to practice loving each other.
The best use of life is love. The best expression of love is time. The best time to love is now.
Point to Ponder: Life is all about love.
Verse to Remember: “The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love Your Neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14 (NIV)
Question to Consider: Honestly, are relationships my first priority? How can I ensure that they are?
You were formed for God’s family!
“His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave Him great pleasure.” Eph. 1:5 (NLT)
God wants a family, and he created you to be a part of it. The entire Bible is the story of
God building a family who will love him, honor him, and reign with him forever. When we place our faith in Christ, God becomes our Father, we become his children, other believers become our brothers and sisters, and the church becomes our spiritual family. The family of God includes all believers in the past, the present, and the future.
Our families on earth are wonderful gifts from God, but they are temporary and fragile, often broken by divorce, distance, growing old, and inevitably, death. On the other hand, our spiritual family—our relationship to other believers—will continue throughout eternity.
The Bible says, “Jesus and the people He makes holy all belong to the same family. That is why He isn’t ashamed to call them His brothers and sisters.” Hebrews 2:11 (CEV)
Let that amazing truth sink in – you are a part of God’s family, and because Jesus makes you holy, God is proud of you! Being included in God’s family is the highest honor and the greatest privilege you will ever receive. Nothing else comes close. Whenever you feel unimportant, unloved, or insecure, remember to whom you belong.
Point to Ponder: I was formed for God’s family.
Verse to Remember: “His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 1:5 a (NLT)
Question to Consider: How can I start treating other believers like members of my own family?
Regardless of how you feel, God is real!
“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see Him for myself. Yes, I will see Him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!” Job 19:25-27 NLT
It is easy to worship God when things are going great in your life — when he has provided food, friends, family, health, and happy situations. But circumstances are not always pleasant. How do you worship God then? What do you do when God seems a million miles away?
The deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of pain, thanking God during a trial, trusting him when tempted, surrendering while suffering, and loving him when he seems distant. How do you praise God when you don’t understand what’s happening in your life and God is silent? How do you stay connected in a crisis without communication? How do you keep your eyes on Jesus when they’re full of tears?
You do what Job did: “Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’” Job 1:20-21 (NIV)
Remember what God has already done for you. Jesus gave up everything, so you could have everything. He died so you could live forever. That alone is worthy of your continual thanks and praise.
Point to Ponder: God is real, no matter how I feel.
Verse to Remember: "For God has said, ‘I will never leave you; I will never abandon you."' Hebrews 13:5 (TEV)
Question to Consider: How can I stay focused on God's presence, especially when he feels distant? When you feel abandoned by God yet continue to trust him, you worship him in the deepest way.
God wants all of you!
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” Mark 12:30 NIV
God doesn’t want a part of your life. God is not interested in halfhearted commitment, partial obedience, and the leftovers of your time and money. He desires your full devotion, not little bits of your life.
A Samaritan woman once tried to debate Jesus on the best time, place, and style for worship. Jesus replied that these external issues are irrelevant. Where you worship is not as important as why you worship and how much of yourself you offer to God when you worship.
The kind of worship that pleases God has four characteristics:
- God is pleased when our worship is accurate.
- God is pleased when our worship is authentic.
- God is pleased when our worship is thoughtful.
- And God is pleased when our worship is practical.
When Jesus said, “Love God with all your strength,” he was saying that worship takes effort and energy. It’s not always convenient or comfortable, and sometimes worship is a sheer act of the will—a willing sacrifice. When you praise God even when you don’t feel like it, when you get out of bed to worship when you’re tired, or when you help others when you are worn out, you’re offering a sacrifice of worship to God. And that pleases God.
Point to Ponder: God wants all of me.
Verse to Remember: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." Mark 12:30 (NIV)
Question to Consider: Which is more pleasing to God right now, my public worship or my private worship? What will I do about this?
You are as close to God as you choose to be!
“Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.” James 4:8 (NLT)
Like any friendship, you must work at developing your friendship with God. It won’t happen by accident. It takes desire, time, and energy.
The first building block of a deeper friendship with God is complete honesty—about your faults and your feelings. God doesn’t expect you to be perfect, but he does insist on complete honesty. Every time you trust God’s wisdom and do whatever he says – even when you don’t understand it – you deepen your friendship with God.
We don’t normally think of obedience as a characteristic of friendship – that’s reserved for relationships with a parent or the boss or a superior officer – not a friend. However, Jesus made it clear, that obedience is a condition of intimacy with God. He said, “… You are my friends, if you obey Me.” John 15:14 (CEV)
There is nothing—absolutely nothing—more important than developing a friendship with God.
Have you been missing out on the most important thing in life? You can do something about it starting now. Remember, it’s your choice. You are as close to God as you choose to be.
Point to Ponder: I’m as close to God as I choose to be?
Verse to Remember: “Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.” James 4:8 a (NLT)
Question to Consider: What practical choices will I make today in order to grow closer to God?
God wants to be your best friend!
“I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you … and here is how to measure it – the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends. You are My friends if you obey Me.” John 15:12-14 NLT
Your relationship to God has many different aspects: God is your Creator and Maker, Lord and Master, Judge, Redeemer, Father, Savior, and much more. But the most shocking truth is this: Almighty God yearns to be your Friend!
Friendship with God is possible only because of the grace of God. The old hymn says, “What a friend we have in Jesus,” God invites us to enjoy friendship and fellowship with Him. Jesus said, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15 (NIV)
The word for friend in this verse does not mean a casual acquaintance but a close, trusted relationship. The same word is used to refer to the best man at a wedding and a king’s inner circle of intimate, trusted friends. In royal courts, servants must keep their distance from the king, but the inner circle of trusted friends enjoys close contact, direct access, and confidential information. Knowing and loving God is our greatest privilege, and being known and loved is God’s greatest pleasure.
Point to Ponder: God wants to be my best friend.
Verse to Remember: “Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him.” Psalm 25:14a (LB)
Question to Consider: What can I do to remind myself to think about God and talk to him more often throughout the day?
The heart of worship is surrender!
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind He will accept. When you think of what He has done for you, is this too much to ask?” Romans 12:1 (NLT)
In today’s competitive culture we are taught to never give up and never give in—so we don’t hear much about surrendering. If winning is everything, surrendering is unthinkable. We would rather talk about winning, succeeding, overcoming, and conquering than yielding, submitting, obeying, and surrendering. But surrendering to God is the heart of worship.
As Joshua approached the biggest battle of his life, he encountered God, fell in worship before him, and surrendered his plans. That surrender led to a stunning victory at Jericho. This is the paradox: Victory comes through surrender.
Nothing is more powerful than a surrendered life in the hands of God. “So give yourselves completely to God.”
Point to Ponder: The heart of worship is surrender.
Verse to Remember: “Surrender your whole being to him to be used for righteous purposes.” Romans 6:13b (TEV)
Question to Consider: What area of my life am I holding back from God?
The smile of God is the goal of your life!
“May the Lord smile on you …” Numbers 6:25 (NLT)
Since pleasing God is the first purpose of your life, your most important task is to discover how to do that. “Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.” Ephesians 5:10 (Msg)
Five acts of worship that make God smile:
You may feel that the only time God is pleased with you is when you’re doing “spiritual” activities—like reading the Bible, attending church, praying, or sharing your faith. Actually, God enjoys watching every detail of your life, whether you are working, playing, resting, or eating. He doesn’t miss a single move you make.
The Bible tells us, “The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23 (NLT)
Every human activity, except sin, can be done for God’s pleasure if you do it with the attitude of praise. Will you make pleasing God the goal of your life? There is nothing that God won’t do for the person totally absorbed with this goal.
Point to Ponder: God smiles when I trust him.
Verse to Remember: “The Lord is pleased with those who worship him and trust his love.” Psalm 147:11 (CEV)
Question to Consider: Since God knows what is best, in what areas of my life do I need to trust him most?
You were planned for God’s pleasure!
“You created everything, and it is for your pleasure that they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:11 (NLT)
The moment you were born into the world, God was there as an unseen witness, smiling at your birth. He wanted you alive, and your arrival gave him great pleasure. God did not need to create you, but he chose to create you for his own enjoyment. You exist for his benefit, his glory, his purpose, and his delight.
You are a child of God, and you bring pleasure to God like nothing else he has ever created. Bringing enjoyment to God – living for his pleasure – is the first purpose of your life. When you fully understand this truth, you will never again have a problem with feeling insignificant. It proves your worth.
Anything you do that brings pleasure to God is an act of worship. Like a diamond, worship is multifaceted. Worship is not a part of your life – it is your life. Praise should be the first activity when you open your eyes in the morning and the last activity when you close them at night. David said, “I will thank the Lord at all times. My mouth will always praise Him.” Psalm 34:1 (GLT)
This is what real worship is all about – falling in love with Jesus.
Point to Ponder: I was planned for God’s pleasure.
Verse to Remember: “The LORD takes pleasure in his people.” Psalm 149:4a (TEV)
Question to Consider: What common task could I start doing as if I were doing it directly for Jesus?
David V. Jimenez