Do you often think “the Christian life” isn’t working for you and you don’t understand why? Do you ever believe you can’t do enough to please God? Do you compare yourself to other Christians and feel disappointed with a life that hasn’t turned out the way you expected? Perhaps you wonder what’s wrong with you and why you can’t seem to overcome whatever obstacles keep holding you back. Have your efforts to pray more, read the Bible more, do more ~ BE more ~ left you exhausted, frustrated and lonely?
Welcome to the grind of religion. Ready to ditch it?
A favorable definition of religion is the belief in and worship of a personal God. But the religion I encourage you to lose is the rule-following system that tells you what you must do to earn salvation and how you must behave to deserve God’s love, acceptance and approval. It’s focusing more on what you DO instead of who God says you ARE.
And it breeds shame, fear, frustration, and failure.
Unfortunately, as Martin Luther said, religion is the default setting of the human heart. So even after receiving the gospel message and beginning a walk of faith, most of us slowly drift into religious patterns of performance.
And it’s soul-crushing.
Jesus didn’t save us to follow a system of religion; he saved us to bring us into a heart-connected, intimate relationship with the Father that transforms our identity, redefines our purpose, and realigns our priorities.
But we have to cultivate this kind of relationship. It doesn’t happen automatically. The spiritual practices of prayer and Bible reading are definitely help with that process, but there is so much more to relationship than external disciplines.
A relationship with God is a journey of intimacy, authenticity and vulnerability that requires bringing our full selves into His presence, knowing we are fully loved and accepted just as we are. And this journey takes practice! No one does it perfectly, and when we fail to understand this, it’s easy to feel defeated and believe that something is wrong with us.
But there is nothing wrong with you! It is possible to live a joyful Christian life in the midst of an imperfect one. And that life is found through a day-by-day connection with Jesus.
I want to share with you 3 daily practices that continually help me lose the striving of religion and find that deeper relationship. When we are deliberate and intentional to develop these 3 practices, we can experience Jesus in a progressively more personal way:
Practice #1 is REST
To rest is to cease action of any kind. A body is at rest when it ceases to move; a mind is at rest when it ceases to be disturbed or agitated. For most of us, it’s so much easier to rest our bodies than our minds. But God most often speaks to us in that still, small voice. So if our minds are constantly bombarded with stimuli, how can we possibly connect to Him?
Schedule some time each day to rest from all your activity; rest from your mental exertion and find a quiet place to be quiet and still and know that He is God. Recalibrate your compass to His voice and just BE with Him, as His much loved child.
Rest from performing.
Rest from pretending.
Rest from comparison.
Rest from self-punishment.
Rest from self-protecting.
Rest from self-reliance.
Matthew 11:28-30 MSG “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God…
Isaiah 30:15 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…”
Practice #2 is RECEIVE
To receive is to accept what has been offered to you. To hold it. Retain it. Embrace it.
One of my biggest weaknesses is my desire to be self-sufficient. When I’m unable to accomplish things on my own, I feel weak and NEEDY. And I hate to feel needy. But we’re all needy creatures! And our neediness is actually our greatest asset because our neediness is what drives us to Jesus. We can take every need to Him and receive His more-than-enough provision. Receive it by faith, regardless of what we think or how we feel. Make a decision to take Him at His word, to believe He is faithful and that every promise He has spoken is true.
Receive God’s provision for you in the midst of your struggle.
Receive His love for you in the depths of your inner being.
Receive God’s promises to soothe your fear and doubt.
Receive God’s peace to calm your chaos and confusion.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Psalm 5:3 In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
Lamentations 3:22-26 The faithful love of the Lord never ends; His mercies are new every morning. The Lord is my inheritance; therefore I will hope in Him! The Lord is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.
Practice #3 is RELINQUISH
To relinquish is to voluntarily surrender; to let go; to renounce responsibility for; to transfer possession of; to yield to a superior force or to the will of another.
Basically? Relinquish means to stop controlling! To cast all of our anxieties at His feet and to let go of any expectations for a particular outcome. To trust God with every detail of our lives.
Relinquish control of people and situations.
Relinquish every anxious thought.
Relinquish expectations for a particular outcome.
Relinquish the need to understand everything.
1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor.
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.
Jeremiah 10:23 I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course.
Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Rest, Receive, and Relinquish. These 3 practices are helping me connect to God in a more personal way, so I have created a free printable version just for you! You can download your copy of 3 Daily Practices for a Deeper Relationship with Jesus HERE!
Give them a try and tell me what you think!
What helps YOU connect to Jesus? Let me know in the comments box below. Or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I would love to hear from you!