In His Presence

Growing up in church, I encountered my fair share of legalism. Maybe some of you can relate. Often what one said and did was seemingly more important than what was in the heart. Many years later, I still sometimes struggle with this mentality. The people-pleaser in me feels like I need to earn the favor of God, but I now know that’s not what He expects me to do at all.

JOURNAL: What was your experience and understanding of God when you were growing up? Does this influence how you view Him today?

It wasn’t until much later in my life that I learned what it truly means to have a relationship with my Heavenly Father. The Christian life isn’t about checking boxes and following rules. It’s about sitting in the presence of the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to work in my heart and life.

We can attend all of the church services, bring visitors, and serve on Sundays. All are good things. But if we never have an authentic encounter with the Holy Spirit, then what is it all for?

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’- Matthew 7:21-23 NLT

God doesn’t want us to simply check all of the boxes in His name. He doesn’t want us to settle for a Christian life that only looks good to others. Like the good Father that He is, God wants us to have an abundant life full of more peace and joy than we could ever ask or think.

As a mom, I love spending time with my boys. Quality time is my top love language. The moments we share together strengthen our relationship and the bond we have. It is in these moments that they share what’s going on in their lives, frustrations they may have, or fears they face. Although they may unintentionally divulge these things, it sparks deeper conversations and allows me to impart wisdom I may have learned along the way.

Oh, how God longs to sit and commune with us just as I do with my boys. He wants us to bring our worries and our fears and lay them at His feet. His love language is quality time with us, and so often we don’t have time for Him because we’re trying to do all of the Christian things.

JOURNAL: What Christian boxes have you been trying to check instead of establishing and strengthening an authentic relationship with God?

It’s time we put aside the rules and regulations, letting go of our need to earn God’s favor. When we sit in the presence of our Father and focus on a relationship with Him, He will guide our steps and actions, and our motives will be pure. Our service will be for His glory, and His glory alone.

ACTIVATION: Whenever you are tempted to check a Christian box, stop yourself first and ask yourself, “Am I doing this for God’s glory or man’s approval?”

PRAYER PROMPT: Spend time in prayer each day and talk with God as you would a parent or a close friend. Share your heart with Him and draw close.
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