How do I talk WITH God? Lately I feel like all I've ever done is talk AT him.
A couple of quick thoughts. Reading the Bible and journaling about what you read is a way to talk with God. Prayer, including silence to hear from Him, is another. Memorizing Scripture would be another. When you do this, you allow God to speak to you through His Word at any time.
I loved the sermon today about how we cannot sin out of our relationship with Christ. That he has made a commitment to us not based on our performance but on Christ’s. However, I feel a lot of people have an issue with this. Some people say that this mentality leads to more sinful behavior, or excuses sin. So how do you respond to someone who says this when you’re trying to explain God’s unconditional favor?
Let's use Jesus as an example. How did Jesus live in response to God's eternal, unconditional love towards Him? Did He go off and sin, break rules, ignore God's commands, and disobey God's Word? No. In knowing He was eternally and unconditionally loved by God, Jesus didn't do any of those things. Instead, because He was loved, He responded by loving God and doing what pleased His Heavenly Father.
The same is true for anyone who truly believes in God's eternal, unconditional love for them. You don't use God's love as an excuse to sin ("Well, I might as well sin, because God loves me no matter what I do."), but God's love gives you a desire to love Him in return by doing what pleases Him. You don't obey God to get Him to love you; you obey God because He loves you. To take advantage of someone's love (God's or another person's) and say, "Well since you love me I'm going to do whatever I want no matter what kind of pain, heartache, etc...it causes you" is to show that you haven't really received the love they have for you to begin with. God's love is unconditional, but when received it always changes the desires of the heart to want to love God and do what pleases Him.