I was told by those who "discipled" me to make sure I pray every day...read my Bible every day...have a quiet time every day...and confess my sins every day.
I was told I needed to memorize and meditate on Bible verses.
I was told to make sure I give my time...give my talents...and give my treasure to God.
I was told I needed to set aside one hour a week to serve in a ministry at church...to set aside one hour a week to be involved in a small group at church...and to set aside one hour a week to attend a service at church.
I was told that if I did these things I would grow in my relationship with God and stay in fellowship with God.
However, the only areas I grew in were guilt, shame, and condemnation because I could not do these daily and weekly.
And fellowship with God? I felt out of fellowship with him constantly.
I was never told what God had done for me by grace through Jesus...not once.
Then someone shared with me the good news of God's grace.
Someone took the time to teach me the Bible.
Someone taught me about the completed work of Jesus through his death and resurrection.
Someone taught me that through Jesus I was fully forgiven, completely righteous, totally
accepted, and in a love-relationship with God as my Father.
For the first time I began to grow...without even trying!
For the first time I began to enjoy fellowship with God without fearing I was out of fellowship.
If you have ever felt as I did...
If you have felt that you could never fulfill all the religious requirements placed upon you by those who "disciple" you.
If you have felt that God was disappointed with you as a result.
I have good news for you...no great news for you!
What you are trying to do, Jesus has done for you.
His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead secured your forgiveness from God and righteousness before God.
Everything you are trying to do to earn God's acceptance, grow in your relationship with God, and stay in fellowship with God...he has done for you.
Growing in your relationship with God and enjoying fellowship with him is not about your effort.
It is about the revelation in your heart and mind of the good news of God's grace that he has lavished upon you through Jesus.
It is about the revelation in your heart and mind of the riches of God's grace that he has freely, fully, and forever given to you in Jesus.
It is about the revelation in your heart and mind of the love of God for you as a Father.
It is about the immeasurable love of Jesus for you.
My prayer for you is that of Paul in his letter to the Ephesians.
I pray the Lord would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation so you may know God as your loving Father.
I pray he would give you a full understanding of the riches of his grace that he has lavished upon you in Jesus.
I pray you would come to know the immeasurable love of Jesus for you and be filled with his love deep within your heart.
Once the eyes of your heart are opened to see the riches of God's grace and the immeasurable love of Jesus for you, you will no longer live in the condemnation of what you should do as required by the discipleship system that you are part.
Rather, you will live in celebration of what God has done for you through Jesus.
You will live confidently, knowing you are loved, accepted, and forgiven by God as your loving Father who is full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness toward you.
You will find yourself enjoying a love-relationship with God based upon total transparency, openness, and honesty.
You will find yourself growing, without even trying.