Define the Relationship in 2024
In 2 Chronicles 34 there’s a story about a guy named Josiah. He was learning to do things differently than those before him. “Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left” (verses 1, 2, NIV). I can imagine that there were probably those who knew him, who nick-named him “Laser-Beam”! I’m sure that there were people in his government who probably thought, man, this kid needs to relax…he’s too serious!
In verses 1-8 of that chapter Josiah “cleans house,” so to speak. It’s almost as if he says to God, “OK, God, I’m tired of messing around; it’s time I got serious about You!” Take some time right now and read the rest of that chapter for yourself; you’ll learn how seriously Josiah took his relationship with God. Josiah’s single-minded dedication to God can be something that we can learn from, as we begin 2024.
What types of things are you seeking out in 2024 and are any of them more important than connecting with God? I didn’t think so. Jesus, in His speech, announcing Himself and His ministry to people who were focused on just making it every day, put the focus on what we should really be focused on:
“But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also” (Matthew 6:33, AMP).
I work with teenagers and young adults and not a week goes by that I don’t talk with them about “DTR” (defining the relationship), often with someone they like—a lot. They aren’t sure how the other person feels about it. Usually the idea of this conversation is fraught with a lot of anxiety because they’re just not certain that the other person is as crazy about them as they are about the other person.
But when we’re dealing with God, we can be certain that God is absolutely crazy about us;.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted” (John 3:16-18, Message).
The Candy Man Can
I remember like it was yesterday when I first saw the 1971 classic movie “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory”. I remember sitting in my living room and watching a bunch of kids losing their minds in a candy shop, while the shop owner literally sang the praises of the genius of candy-maker, Willy Wonka; I remember my elementary-aged mouth watering, as I heard these lyrics:
“Who can take a rainbow. Wrap it as a sigh. Soak it in the sun and make a strawberry lemon pie. The candyman can. The candyman can, cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good. Willy Wonka makes everything he bakes satisfying and delicious…”
Now, there’s nothing wrong with good things in the world, but for many people, good things end up being mistaken for “God” things, and when that happens, they’re always going to be disappointed. I know that this is only a fictional movie, but it represents the perspective that a lot of people think that the world offers—and guess who the candyman is? So, really, I only have one question for you? What are you focused on?
Loving God vs the World
We just finished the Christmas season, with all it’s promises of being able to find, give and get that perfect gift. For many of us, we bought into the glitter and promises for happiness, peace, and fulfillment. However, soon after tearing into those gifts, we quickly realized our disappointment. There’s nothing like the highs of Christmas and the lows of the New Year to wake us up to the harsh realities of life, and they are this: “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever” (1 John 2:15-17, NLT). Jesus put it simply when he warned us: “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Mark 8:36, 37, NLT).
So what’s it going to be this year? Will this be the year we say to Jesus, “Let’s DTR!” I certainly hope so, because He’s ready and waiting (Rev. 3:20). Let’s get serious with Him; we’ve got nothing to lose and eternity to gain.
Happy New Year!