Relationship with God

Readings for this week December 30 – January 3
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

Due to the holiday season, the January Daily Readings were prepared in advance of the Summer Series, and therefore are not directly connected with the content of the Summer Series.

The readings for the four weeks of January will follow the four key relationships (God, Self, Each Other, World), addressing one relationship each week. The readings are taken from across our series of Life Together books, hence why some may seem familiar.

The readings follow the same format as before.

Day 1 – We Are Designed By God

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Genesis 1:26-31

We begin our journey in the book of Genesis, the first book in the Bible. God is creator both of the entire universe and each one of us. The Bible makes it clear that God is the creator. The earth, the heavens, and everything they contain are the result of his highly skilled design. He created each of us, shaping us before we were born, and giving us life. We are not a random collection of atoms but the personal handiwork of God.

More than that, people are his best work, the ‘crowning glory’ of creation. We are the only creatures made in God’s own image and the only ones designed specifically to enjoy a close, loving relationship with him. God is love, and it’s his intention that we receive love from him, and that we love him in return. In the beginning, people enjoyed an honest, undamaged relationship with God. There was nothing to block that intimacy. The Bible says that God looked at his creation and pronounced it ‘good.’ He set the universe up the way he wanted it to be—a place of immense variety and wonder, and a place where people could enjoy life experiencing all the benefits of a loving relationship with their creator.

Questions to Consider
What new things are you noticing about God’s creation? What new things are developing in your relationship with him?

Prayer
Lord God, thank you for the gift of your creation and the gift of my life within the framework of your creative love. I praise you for your goodness and thank you for your desire to be with us and join you in your creative work. Thank you for a love that enfolds me from birth to death and beyond. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – Joining the Family

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Ephesians 1:3-10

Have you ever thought deeply about the real meaning of Christmas? We celebrate the fact that God became a human being: God joined our family so we could join his.

When the human family chose to rebel against God, we pushed him away. Despite this he made it possible for us to come back into relationship with him through faith in his son Jesus Christ. Through Christ we can become children of God and enjoy the love that God wants to share with us. This was his purpose from the beginning.

Amazingly, God offers us a place in his own family. He wants us to be his adopted sons and daughters. Through sending his son to die for us he has clearly shown that he wants us back. He wants us to be a part of his family, and there is no price too high for him to pay to achieve this. God simply refuses to be apart from us. He wants to claim us as his own.

Jesus became one with us. He was a person—a complete thinking, feeling human being—with all the strengths and weaknesses that involves. God entered directly into the world and met us right where we are in our humanness. By becoming one with us, Jesus made it possible for us to become one with him.

Questions to Consider
How often do you stop and say to yourself “God is really, really pleased to have me as his son/daughter?” What stops you? How can you make reminding yourself of this truth a regular part of your devotional life?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me a family by giving me a place in your family. Help me see myself as you see me, and show me how to see others and love others as you see and love them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – God Talked First

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 2 Kings 22

God communicates to us in a number of ways. King Josiah and the Israelites discovered God’s message to them through the Bible.

God speaks to us through the created world, through his son Jesus and through the Holy Spirit. He speaks in circumstances we face and people we meet. In the story we just read, God had spoken to the Israelites through his written word, even though they had forgotten it.

This shows us two things. It shows us that communication with God starts with him, not with us. He wants to share life with us long before we seek him out, in fact, right from the beginning of creation. Even though the Israelites of King Josiah’s time were unaware of it, God had already told them what he wanted them to know.

So, much of what we need to hear is right there waiting for us in the Bible. When we read it we grow in our understanding of how to live in light of God’s amazing redemptive love.

Questions to Consider
How has God been speaking to you lately – over the last week, month, year? Are there particular ways that he seems to choose to communicate with you? What particular things has he been saying to you? How have you responded?

Prayer
Loving Lord, may my eyes and ears always be open to you, to see where you are calling me and to hear you as you lead me. You will always be calling to me, guiding me, encouraging me, challenging me – may I always be seeking you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Honest Worship

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Isaiah 6:1-7

What does a worship encounter with God look like? Today we read about someone who found out.

We cannot dream up our own picture of what God is like and worship that made-up image. For example, if we think we can approach God without owning up to our sin, we are just kidding ourselves. Worship requires us to be real before God, it’s not just a ‘feel good’ experience.

When Isaiah met God face-to-face, he ended up flat on the ground begging for forgiveness. There’s not much that’s ‘feel good’ about that! But it was real.

We need to approach God humbly aware of our sin, but also knowing he loves us. He will neither abandon us nor ignore our worship. If we feel God’s presence, it is not because we somehow rise up to him, but because he chooses to come down to us.

When we worship God without trying to cover up who we really are, we see ourselves clearly and can also see God as he is.

Questions to Consider
The Bible is full of different pictures of God—creator, lover, comforter, teacher, judge, provider, protector… What is your image of God? What does your image of God say about you?

Prayer
Almighty God, you are worthy of all praise and worship – the only one worthy of our worship and allegiance. May I remain faithful to you in all I do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – Known and Called

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Jeremiah 1:4-9

God has prior knowledge of who we are, and who we can be. He knows what we need and what we can do, and what potential lies within us.

God’s call is not a call to unequipped people who have no hope of accomplishing what he asks. God knew who Jeremiah was and what he wanted him to do, and whether Jeremiah would be up to the task.

God knows what he’s doing. Even with our fears and inadequacies we can still follow. What we need to do is listen and obey. It might not be easy. Though Jeremiah was called by God, later on God had to tell him to ‘toughen up’ because things were going to get a lot harder for Jeremiah.

We are not the centre of God’s mission. Whether we think we are suited to what he calls us to is not the point. God has a purpose, a mission, and he invites us to journey with him, trusting him even though we’re not sure of the destination. Like he said to Jeremiah, God says to us: “go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you”. We are called to follow and obey, to go where he directs us, regardless of how tough the task is. It’s okay to be afraid, but we shouldn’t let that stop us. We are called to trust that God knows best.

Questions to Consider
What are the fears that might stop you following where God is calling you? Why these particular fears?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, you know me and have called me to play a part in the coming of your kingdom and in calling a lost world back to your embrace. May I be faithful and loyal in answering your call. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)