Sunday, February 21, 2016

Business With God

Business With God
February 22, 2016
1 John 4:8  "Whoever does not love does not know God."

The Bible is full of conditional promises, similar to an if/then statement.  No matter which English translation of the Bible you read, you'll find the word "if" appears over fifteen hundred times.  An example of this is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14, "IF my people.....will humble themselves and pray.....THEN I will heal their lands."  It is an action by us that precedes an action from the Lord, but only if we complete the initial requirement.  This is also true in the negative sense with a consequence from the Lord.  He promises to bring discipline when we decide not to obey His commands.  A partial list of do's and don'ts along with the respective promises from the Lord are found in Deuteronomy 11.  He tells us what to expect from our actions, both positive and negative.  I am extremely appreciative of these statements from the Lord, because they actually give me a formula to live by, a code of conduct with benefits, so to speak.

But what happens when it appears we are only living our lives unto the Lord in relation to what we think we will or will not get in return?  Like in Malacahi chapter 3:10-11 when the Lord promises to pour out financial blessing if we tithe.  It is exact phrasing that suggests a guaranteed if/then relationship.  IF we tithe, THEN the Lord will bless.  While it comes from the Lord's mouth, can we live by it?  Can we comb through Scripture and find all the things we want and then determine what it would take, according to Scripture, to get what we want?  The answer is an emphatic no.  The Lord does not put these phrases in the Bible so we can live by a strict formula or code, but so we can understand how the Lord works.  If we are living our lives only according to a code of conduct, we are doing business with God and not having a relationship with Him.  This is the antithesis of what He desires.  He wants a relationship, but when you boil the relationship down to a few "gives" and "gets," then you are conducting a transaction.  The Lord is not transactional; He is relational.  In fact, He doesn't actually appreciate the transaction if done only with the expectation of the return.

While the Lord is glad to communicate the cause and effect status related to our actions, it should not be the basis for our behavior.  His behavior is predicated on love and set that example in place with freely giving us salvation.  He desires for our behavior to be based, not on the conditional promises, but on love and the desire to give back to Him.  This attitude completely changes the root of our behavior, where we are not endeavoring to get, but endeavoring to give.  Sure the Lord is more than willing to give in return, but you and I must temporarily forget the conditional promises when we are living for Him.  This allows our actions to be judged with the right heart.  Suppose you were never promised a blessing for tithing, would you still do it?  Suppose there wasn't a Hell, would you still live for the Lord?  Suppose the Lord never promised to rescue you from trouble, would you still trust in the Lord?

Most of us, when you strip away the conditional promises, might not be serving the Lord; we'd be living for ourselves.  If this is true, then your relationship with the Lord is not based on your love for Him, but your poor perception of who He really is.  God is love.  If you are tired of giving to the Lord and not receiving, then you have been trying to conduct business.  The Lord doesn't conduct business.  You have to completely administer your actions out of love, then and only then will you find meaning in what you are doing as well as finally realize the return on all those promises found in Scripture.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:
2 Chron 7, Malachi 3, 1 John 4

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