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Sometimes it is hard for us to believe that we are precious to God, that He delights in us -- not because of what we do for Him but because of our love relationship with Him. 1 John 3:1a tells us, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" We did not earn this relationship with Him; we were born-again into it because of what Jesus did on Calvary. Because of Jesus, we are adopted into God's family. We become His and we enter into a special friendship with Him.
Most of us just think of "friendship with God" in terms of salvation, e.g., it means that we are saved from our sins and have eternal life. It is true that we do have this, but that is only one aspect of friendship with God. There is another aspect to this as well.
God quite literally wants to be friends with us. We are dear to Him and we are precious to Him. Many of us in Western Cultures have some difficulty with this statement, because we have been taught "worm theology" for such a long time. The song Amazing Grace expresses this theology in the phrase that says, "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wrench like me." We have been taught that we are wrenches, we are taught that we are not worth anything, that we have no value. But that could not be further from the truth. We are precious in God's eyes.
David said, in Psalm 139:17, "How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!" Why would God spend so much time thing about us if we were not important to Him? The fact is that we become a source of delight to God. This is not something new, it has always been that way, even back in the early days when His people were still wandering around in the wilderness. Deuteronomy 10:15 says, "The Lord delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day."
Proverbs 15:8 tells us, "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight." We are righteous because Jesus died for our sins to make us that way -- so God delights in our prayers. Think about it and personalize it -- God delights in you and He loves to listen to your prayers!
In fact, you are a source of great joy to Him. Look what He said about this in Zephaniah 3:17, "The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." And He put it this way in Is 43:1,4: "...Thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine ... Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honored, And I have loved you; therefore I will give men for you, and people for your life." And He followed through on that love-promise in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
With all that, why is it that some of us have such a hard time believing we are precious to God? Oh, we believe it in theory -- when we talk about mankind in general or about other people. But when it comes time to personalize it to our own lives, well, it becomes harder for us to believe. Maybe that is because we know our own short comings, faults and failures? I don't know why it is, but I know that it is hard for most of us to feel precious to God. We try to tie it to our works -- if we do a lot of things to serve Him, then maybe He can be pleased with us because of that service. But the truth is that God is often pleased with us and rejoices in us for no particular reason other than that He loves us and we are precious to Him.
Let me illustrate with an experience from my own life this week. Ed left for Canada a week ago Friday, so he could take care of some matters related to his late mother's estate. He was gone all week, so I had the house to myself. God spoke to me early in the week that I should use this week as a "rest time." That means I did not do much of anything -- I did not do much of my GodSpeak work -- I did not write any lessons, I did not do much editing of teaching series, I did not write any prophetic words, I did not minister to anyone and I did not even answer all of my emails. And I also did not do much work outside of the ministry -- I did not do very many chores around the house. I mostly just rested and relaxed.
I figured I would spend a lot of time in intense prayer and pressing into God, but that did not happen either. I felt close to Him, I frequently sensed His nearness, but I did not actually do much intentional pressing into Him. Yea, I did my personal devotions each day, but nothing more than usual. I did pray, and yes, He spoke to me. But again, I did not do more than usual, even though I had more time because to press into Him because I was taking a "rest vacation."
By the way, I needed the rest because I was exhausted. I did not do much all week, yet I never got bored or restless. I did sleep a lot more than usual and I did some other relaxing things, like playing with my dogs and catching up on some reading. I did not pull away from God at all, but I also did not do anything special to press into Him. I guess it "felt" like I just wasted the week because I did not accomplish much.
I watched a movie Thursday evening. As soon as it was over, God sent me upstairs to the computer to read John 3:16-21 from my online bible because He wanted to speak to me about it. As I was walking up the stairs, He said something to me that really caught me off guard and sort of shocked me.
He said, "Teresa, I am so pleased with you."
My reply was out of my mouth before I even had time to think about it. "What for God? I haven't done anything special for You this week."
Even as I said it, I realized that I was tying pleasing Him to doing things for Him -- I was making it about performance.
"Teresa, you obeyed Me well this week. My command to you was to rest, and you are doing a good job of it."
"But God," I replied, "Since I was supposed to be resting, I figured that I should be using that time to press more deeply into You; to read Your word more, to worship more, to pray more stuff like that." I meant to do that but somehow I had not gotten around to it. I felt bad that I had not done more of those things. I thought about how I'd spent that evening, watching a DVD. It had seemed relaxing and fun at the time, but it was nothing compared to the delight of being surrounded by God's tangible presence. And as much as I love that presence, I had not pushed in for it all week. And God knew that. He knew I'd wasted time instead of pursuing Him. So how could He say that He was pleased with me?
Then God replied, "Teresa, I am pleased with you because of our relationship together, because of your love for Me and your heart to obey Me. It is true that if you had pushed into Me like that, I would have met you more tangibly and I would have blessed you in a special way. But child, My pleasure in you is not tied to your performance. It is tied to our friendship."
Wow, I was undone. God is so amazing. It is easy to get lost in worship once we catch a glimpse of how marvelous He is. And that encounter gave me a glimpse. The wonder of Who He is began to envelope me and I found myself worshipping Him.
I did better at pursuing Him on Friday evening. I was going to watch television after I got home from working out at the gym, but I decided to pray instead. I had a wonderful time with God. There was a worship service at church that I had intended to go to. But God met me so powerfully at home that I decided to stay there and not break communion with Him to drive to church for the service. It was so good that night! He is good!
It is so wonderful that He loves us and takes such delight in us. God wants to make it real to each of His children that He loves us and He is pleased with us as we try to walk out His lordship in our day-to-day lives. He rejoices over us, He is blessed by our prayers.
If you haven't already done so, it's time to receive that truth and make it personal in your own heart and life. God loves you and He takes great pleasure and delight in your life. And if you don't believe me when I say that, then go ask Him and see what He has to say to you about that!