The Student’s Desk

That we may know Christ

What does it mean to be in a relationship with God?

The Student’s Desk fortnightly devotion.

Preparation for Prayer

Psalm 63:1-11

O God, you are my God,

earnestly I seek you;

my soul thirsts for you,

my body longs for you,

in a dry and weary land

where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary

and beheld your power and your glory.

Because your love is better than life,

my lips will glorify you.

I will praise you as long as I live,

and in your name I will lift up my hands.

My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;

with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;

I think of you through the watches of the night.

Because you are my help,

I sing in the shadow of your wings.

My soul clings to you;

your right hand upholds me.

They who seek my life will be destroyed;

they will go down to the depths of the earth.

They will be given over to the sword

and become food for jackals.

But the king will rejoice in God;

all who swear by God’s name will praise him,

while the mouths of liars will be silenced.

Prayer

As we meet as your people, it is our desire to thank you for all you’ve done for us, to pray to and to learn from you. Lord, we want to reflect upon the great love you have for each of us. We can often think that being in relationship with you is all about getting into your good books, and we miss the point of what it is to be in relationship with you, and how much you really love us. As we look at what Jesus taught about your love, help us to understand and take delight in your love.

In Jesus name we pray.

Luke 15:11-32

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”

What does it mean to be in a relationship with God?

What does it mean to be in relationship with God? It’s an interesting question. Being in a relationship with God could mean different things to different people. But the passage we just read is fairly specific about what it means.

We should note that when we come into a relationship with God, he is ecstatic! He is over the moon. And it doesn’t seem to matter what we’ve done to offend him. He wants nothing else than for us to come into a personal relationship with him.

We see this in the way the father in the passage welcomes back his rebellious son. Now take note of how this son rebels. He virtually tells his father, “Dad, I wish you were dead!” He takes his share of the inheritance, packs his bags and leaves home, squanders the money on parties and wild living, and ends up working a job that no one at that time in their right mind would want to do. This son has done just about everything he could possibly do to be rebellious! What do you think his father should do? Not welcome him back? Sounds fair after all he’s said and done. But what does the father do? When he spots his son at a distance, he goes running down the road to meet him. He gives him a great big hug and a kiss, and throws a party. He is ecstatic to have his son back!

This is what God is like. When we come to God seeking a relationship with him, he embraces us, and welcomes us. God doesn’t sit on his throne thinking, “hmmm, maybe! Do some good things first and I’ll think about it.” Or, “do this or that first and then come back.” No! God is ecstatic when we come to him seeking a relationship.

But to re-enforce the point, Jesus tells us about the other son. He’s been home the whole time, doing the right thing. But, unfortunately he’s missed the point of what it means to be in a relationship with his father. He thinks the relationship with his father is all about work, and doing what’s right. When he sees the party going on for the other son, he gets upset. He can’t understand why his father hadn’t done anything like that for him who had always done the right thing. The thing was, he could’ve had anything! All he had to do was ask.

What does it mean being in a relationship with God? Well, it doesn’t mean trying to earn our keep with God. In fact it means the opposite. It means acknowledging that we are dependant on God for all of our needs, and we need to be trusting in him in a personal relationship.

© The Student’s Desk, 2007.

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November 16, 2007 Posted by | Devotionals, Parables, Religious | , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Much is Heaven Worth?

The Student’s Desk fortnightly devotion.

Preparation to Pray

Psalm 19:7-11 (ESV)

      The law of the Lord is perfect,

          reviving the soul;

     the testimony of the Lord is sure,

          making wise the simple;

      the precepts of the Lord are right,

          rejoicing the heart;

     the commandment of the Lord is pure,

          enlightening the eyes;

      the fear of the Lord is clean,

          enduring forever;

     the rules of the Lord are true,

          and righteous altogether.

      More to be desired are they than gold,

          even much fine gold;

     sweeter also than honey

          and drippings of the honeycomb.

      Moreover, by them is your servant warned;

          in keeping them there is great reward.

Prayer

Lord, again we thank you that we can gather in your name and meet as your people. As we meet as your people, it is our desire to thank you for all you’ve done for us, to pray to and to learn from you. Lord, we are so blessed in our lives to have so much choice. There seems to be no end of entrainment and other things to amuse us. And we acknowledge this blessing comes from you. But Lord, so often we falter and pay more attention to the things we’re blessed with, rather than you who blesses. Help us Lord to value what you’ve promised us. Like the Psalmist, help us take unbridled delight in your word, and to get excited about you. As we look at what Jesus teaches us may we know the true worth of heaven, and the true worth of following Jesus, and want that more than anything else.

In Jesus name we pray.

Matthew 13:44-46

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

How much is heaven worth?

How much is heaven worth? Ever thought about it? What would you be prepared to give up for heaven? It’s an interesting question, isn’t it?

Speaking of how much things are worth, let’s think about shopping. We all been shopping, haven’t we? Do we like it? There’s nothing like a good shop and finding the one thing you’ve been looking for. What I like is finding a really good bargain and getting something dirt cheap. I get a real kick out of it.

I had a shopping experience like that recently. I had been looking for another bike for a while, and these particular bikes aren’t cheap! I saw one advertised for a really good price. The only catch was it was in Hobart! But it was such good value, I thought it was worth dropping everything I was doing, flying from Sydney to Hobart to spend the money I had and buy this bike. And I did.

Well, Jesus says that’s how we should think about heaven. We should be prepared to give up a whole lot for the heaven. Because heaven is going to be a hundred times better than what we have to give up. Jesus tells two stories of two different men who had a similar experience to me when I bought my bike. One finds buried treasure, and the other spots a pearl. They’re both big finds, a once in a lifetime opportunity. To get what they found, they sell everything they had! They had to sell the house, their clothes, the family goat, the kitchen sink, the whole lot had to go! There wasn’t anything more precious to them then what they had just found.

Jesus is saying that is what the heaven is like. It’s precious! It’s worth more then everything else we own, or hope to own. And while heaven is living with God for eternity, it’s also about following Jesus now. And we’ve been saying that following Jesus means forgiving others when they do the wrong thing by us; listening to what Jesus teaches us; to tell others how much God loves us, both in what we say and what we do; and to trust God for everything we need. Following Jesus is also about trusting in his death and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins. It’s only because of what Jesus did for us that we can even think about going to heaven! Jesus is the one who will get us there. All the more reason to follow Jesus.

Here’s the challenge: Are we following Jesus, or are other things getting in the way? If we’re letting other things get in the way, then we’re saying those things are worth more than following Jesus, and that’s not true. Following Jesus is worth much more! I wasn’t going to let a few essays and a plane flight get in the way of a good buy of a bike. Neither should we let other things get in the way of following Jesus. Heaven’s worth it!

© The Student’s Desk, 2007.

November 2, 2007 Posted by | Devotionals, Parables, Religious | , , , , , | Leave a comment