God is a God of order and there are consistent rewards for obedience, and following the directives of Scripture, yet consequences for not doing right (Deut 28:1ff; Josh 1:7,8; Mal 3:18; Gal 6:9; Eph 6:8). However, the Christian life is more than doing something for a predictable outcome, as then it can revert into a ritual or formality, a religious exercise, following the rules instead of a loving relationship

Is my priority following the method or the Master?

with the rule-maker. Our first responsibility is our relationship with Him, not methods or programs but connection (Jn 15:4-8). Out of love and devotion to Him for saving us, we will desire to walk uprightly, obeying Him and having attentive ears to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (This will always be in alignment with Scriptural principles).

By relying on a formula can subtly put more faith in our 'lifeless routine strategy', as an effort of our flesh rather than a reliance on the Holy Spirit's direction and empowerment who wants to continually guide us in the vitality of a fresh relationship. We need to be open and responsive to God's voice. The recorded miracle of making bitter water sweet was not the result of a new bowl containing salt that was thrown into the spring. It was a man anointed by the Spirit who was listening and obeying God's plan that worked the miracle (2 Kgs 2:19-22). God desire is to fulfill His plan through people with pure hearts that are devoted to Him, not by those who appear to be righteous but in fact whose hearts are far from Him, with their alleged reverence for God consisting of habit and tradition (Isa 29:13). While a course of action can lead to victory, it only succeeds as we are connected to Jesus, "Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 15:57). David conquered the Philistines because he explicitly obeyed God's tactical instructions yet it wasn't the strategy but rather because, "I have set the Lord continually before me..." (Ps 16:8). This takes deliberate action as the devil will try to deceive, discourage and divert you from walking with the Lord.

Although systems can be helpful, reliance on His Spirit is essential (Zech 4:6). Often we are required to physically do something but this action is not necessarily to become the pattern for the future. Triumphant Christian living and any so-called formula for success flow out of a living, two-way

Formulas do not bring about miracles, connection to the miracle worker will

communing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and being filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18). Joshua was told to meditate on God's law and to do all it instructs "for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success" (Josh 1:8). "As long as [Uzziah] sought the Lord, God prospered him" (2 Chron 26:5).

The Christian disciplines including praying, worship and Bible reading should not be just rigid patterns or set times in our lifestyle driven by lifeless, sterile formulas although there are beneficial patterns, aids and principles that can guide us, such as Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication for prayer, and Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer for Bible study. Respond spontaneously to your hearts desires; be in a continual attitude of thanksgiving, sensitive to His working in and through you.

Our interaction with God must not be reduced to a cold, stale formula. God wants a dynamic relationship with us, not based on techniques, imitating someone else's methods or repeating spiritual refrains. Our service to God, and especially true worship must come from the inner core, not just an outward form unsupported by any inner passion.

When Jesus was on earth, the religious leaders assumed they could claim God's blessing by ritualistic acts of the flesh (Mt 23:23,28; Lk 18:10-12). They also diligently studied the Scriptures with the mistaken belief that by them, they would possess eternal life, yet salvation is found only in Jesus, of whom those Scriptures spoke (Jn 5:39).

The Bible tells the believers "in the Name of Jesus...lay hands on the sick...lift up holy hands in prayer...anoint the sick with oil...", yet the power/secret is not in the action, rather in the dynamic relation with the Lord (Mk 16:17,18; 1 Tim 2:8; Jas 5:14). Even using "In the name of Jesus" is not a 'fail-safe' formula that will resolve all problems, but it is in His name that we tap into/exercise His authority. Those who tried to use the formula without connection to the source of the power were exposed (Act 19:13-17).

See also: connection, formality, Jesus/name of, methods, pattern, ritual, spiritual disciplines, strategy.