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(For Part I)  (For Part II)

I am No Longer Guilty Before GOD because I am IN CHRIST!

I can now talk to Him…eye to eye!  I don’t have to be ashamed.  I AM FORGIVEN by the One who knows everything there is to know about me.  He knows the good, the bad and the ugly.  He not only still loves me, He has forgiven me at the cost of His Son!  I am accepted by Him.  But it was not cheap for Him to accept or forgive me.  I am in relationship because of Christ and His death for my sin.

I no longer need to feel guilt before GOD because my record before Him is perfect, the perfect record of Christ that was substituted for my truly crappy record.  There is no other decent word for it!

“My” Record is now the Perfect Record of Christ that I have Received by Faith!

Now I have a perfect record with GOD because of Christ’s death in my place. The only reason it is perfect is because it is Christ’s record, substituted for mine!

Because I have relationship with Him, I can also have relationship with fellow believers.  In fact, in John 13:34-35, Jesus talks about the main way others can tell we are His children–if we love each other!!  That has everything to do with relationship.

Yes, it relates to Christ for sure.  Our relationship to Him is how we become family.  But it is also about how we relate to each other.  How often do we think we need to tell people certain information about being a Christian…and we do eventually.  But He says we show the world by our relationships with each other, that we are Christians and also how Christians behave.  Is that as scary for you as it is for me?  Ouch!

It doesn’t say that all will be easy, that we will all have natural affinities toward each other, or even that we will always be comfortable around each other or agree all the time.  Love is often a process, particularly the kind of love that is costly.  It is something we learn…by trial and error, by failing miserably, asking forgiveness, repenting and changing our ways…repeatedly!

It doesn’t happen as a one-time event.  It is not neat and tidy.  But then, neither is anything that is costly.  Costly things are difficult, often painful, like labor or exercise.  But, when we look back, we are glad we invested the effort in the costly things because the gain was something valuable.  We had a child, there was growth in a positive direction, we gained a new skill, we saved our marriage one day at a time by building the relationship instead of tearing it down!

Relationships Don’t Just Happen, They are Built as We Do Things Together That Show Love…They aren’t Built by Keeping Rules, but by Loving…

That’s the way relationships are.  They build over time…one event on top of another.  One conversation, encouraging word, meal together…whatever it is, they build on each other and we find that we develop sweet relationships with people we never dreamed we would have anything in common with.  Suddenly, we find we care about them because we have prayed for them and invested time in them.  The bridge between them and us has been built and we love them.

That is what it means to be part of the Family of GOD.  We don’t build those relationships through hearsay or with go-betweens.  We get to know those people ourselves, one or two at a time.  It takes courage.  It takes the grace of GOD humbling us.

It takes His work on our self-righteous hearts to crack and break them.  He needs to turn us from Pharisees who were trusting in their goodness, to humble, broken, everyday sinners who have contrite hearts like the tax-collector found in Luke 18:9-14.

I’ve dumped a lot on you about the importance of relationships over three weeks.  Take a few minutes to concentrate on one item for today that GOD is emphasizing for you.  It may be encouraging or it may be pointing out an area where you need to trust Him to change you.

Ask Him to bring it back to you this week and work it out in your life.  If you need to repent, do it.  Trust Him for the results.

Ask Him to bring about the change in you that is needed over this next month.  Be as specific and concrete as you can be!

Ask a friend to hold you accountable for the change you want to see if that is needed.

Continue developing relationships of all types in your life…by the grace of GOD!  Realize it often takes courage…because building relationships can be painful.