Pursuing Intimacy with God

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People sometimes ask, “How do I get closer to God?” They desire to be more intimate with Him. You do?? Good! That should be the desire of all our hearts, to be closer with God. It will be a life long journey—one that will transform you into His image.

What Not To Do

But first, I would suggest we stop doing something. And that something is to spend less time analyzing God and more time obeying Him. James reminds us “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 That’s the first thing we do and yes, it’s that simple. We have so much information available to us these days that we rely now more on man’s wisdom than God’s wisdom and doing that just messes things up for us. Learn to admit to God that you just don’t know. You don’t know why he/she had cancer. You don’t know why they died suddenly in their prime. You don’t know… But God does. And that starts with trusting Him and His perfect will for our lives. Surrender your philosophical self to Him. He is all knowing, not you.

What Has To Be Done

Secondly, if we desire to hear from Him, confess our sins to Him. He knows all of the sins we’ve committed, even the secret ones. Psalm 90:8 says, “You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.” Clear the pathway for God to hear you. Another scripture that brings this point home for us is Isaiah 59:2, “But your iniquities have separated you from God—your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear you.” Personally, I want God to hear me! So this is very important that we do not take advantage of not going to God and confessing our wrongdoings. Surrender your sins.

Be Eager To Learn

Thirdly, get to know Him, get to know His Holy Word. That only comes by reading and spending time there. The Old Testament stories are full of wonderful story after story of His great love for His people and how He is preparing the way for His Son Jesus Christ to come. The New Testament is full of Jesus’ teachings and the apostle’s teachings on everything we need to know about how to live our lives here on earth. Surrender your time to get to know Him.

It’s All A Matter Of Trust

And last and foremost, trust Him. Trust that He is Creator. He is Loving Savior, and He is Merciful Judge! He is the One who is unfathomable. He is the One who is unsearchable! He is God Almighty and He wants to have an intimate relationship with you. Surrender your heart to Him.

When these things happen there is immense peace that comes into our lives. You can actually relax and feel free of stress when you surrender to Him. Honestly, it is helpful to remind ourselves about this. So clear the way to Him, change your attitude toward Him and trust- that He is at the helm, wanting and waiting for you to come to Him and have a close, personal, and intimate relationship with Him. So won’t you?

The Humility Perspective

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I have the privilege of leading a bible study on Monday nights and as I prepare each week’s lectures, God, in His goodness, always leads me to something profound. Here’s what I learned, or re-learned, this past week.

“As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul,” – Job 27:2

The Trials of Job

We are studying the book of Job. For most of the book, Job has been listening to his three friend’s beret him with accusations that he is most certainly being punished by God because he has sinned. Job has defended and defended himself and he is tired and worn out.

Because of this exchange with his friends, which is a long, long and drawn out exchange, the attitude of Job’s heart begins to change. His defense moves from I haven’t sinned to self-righteousness. From an attitude of “I haven’t done wrong” to one of, “I have been denied justice from God” (see Job 27:2 above). He begins to argue that God is in the wrong.

He even goes as far as to demand answers from God. “I sign now my defense—let the Almighty answer me” (Job 31:35).

This is a dangerous place to be.

Who Are We?

Who do we think we are to have an attitude like this when coming to God? If we’re mad at Him for our situation, well, He can handle that, but we must be careful to not challenge the Almighty and His authority.

“Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for out enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”” – Joshua 5:13-14

He is not like us and His scales of justice and righteousness are not ours.

God didn’t earn His deity by being the smartest, the strongest, or the most righteous. He has nothing to prove to us.

Job though, had become captive of his insistence that he was righteous and had lost perspective of God’s truth and sovereignty.

When we reach a point like this, we are at a crossroads. We have to ask ourselves, do we want to learn and grow, or do we want to be right?

Job wanted to be right, which is an unbending perspective that causes wisdom and learning go out the door.

Real Wisdom

And we need wisdom at these moments.

When wisdom is present, we are able to see ourselves in our situations and apply God’s truth accordingly. It is one thing to know truth but something else entirely to know how to apply it to our lives. You can’t be open to this understanding if you are determined to be right.

Knowledge is the understanding of truth, but wisdom is the proper application of that truth.

Job could have done this by simply finding humility. Humility allows us to stop and yield to God and His perspective.

Job’s Fourth Friend

Job’s fourth friend named Elihu steps in. Elihu tells Job, who has said that God has been silent, that God had been speaking. Job wasn’t listening because his view of God was wrong.

A.W. Tozer once said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” What we think of God is the mainspring from which our entire being flows.

This brings me to a question to ask: How do you view God?

  • Is He a punisher?
  • Is He mean an unjust?
  • Does He care?

Do you apply this perspective to everything in your life? Or do you apply a Biblical perspective?

God is good. God is sovereign. He is omnipotent and His ways do not have to make sense to us. But He loves you and cares for you. We have to get to the point where we believe that God is good regardless of our circumstances. Period.

There is no subject more life-changing than God and there is no greater decisive factor in how you live your life than in the knowledge of who God really is.

God loves you. Focus on His goodness and go to Him in humility.

Bless you.

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Thanks Be To God

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Years ago when I was younger, I used to stress over this week. Seeing family was good and all, but it was hard too.

Family dynamics came in to play and that became a stressor in my life. The holidays, whether it was Christmas or Thanksgiving, felt like a “command performance” to have to be there, instead of a relaxing time to take in stories and enjoy the friends and family we had. I guess you could say I wasn’t thankful.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” – 2 Corinthians 9:15

Some of that was immaturity in myself and immaturity in my faith. You see, back then my focus was on me and that’s why it felt like a command performance. No one was putting that stress on me except me. As I have matured both in life and faith, I have come to enjoy all these times.

Life is precious! God has given you the “gift” of life. This gift of life is not just breath in our lungs, but through a Savoir as well! The gift of life through forgiveness and life ever after!

“I will give You thanks with all my heart.” – Psalm 138:1

Whether you eat with actual family, or with “family” you’ve created through your circle of friends, give thanks—you are a wealthy person. If you find yourself alone this holiday for whatever reason, go ahead and still give thanks to your Father in heaven. He loves you and understands your situations more than you think He might. Kay Arthur said it best, “God is in control, and therefore in everything I can give thanks, not because of the situation, but because of the One who directs and rules over it.”

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.” – Psalm 118:29

We all have a choice whether to complain or give thanks in all things. The one who gives thanks can find comfort in everything; the one that complains can find comfort in nothing. So why not concentrate on giving thanks in all circumstances you are in this week and see how much better you will feel about your life?

“And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything n the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” – Colossians 3:17

Bless you and may you have a Happy THANKSgiving!

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Forgiveness

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This past week I came across a post on Facebook about someone with whom I had “crossed hairs” a long time ago. As I saw her picture, I felt a twinge of unforgiveness in my spirit. It was subtle, but it was there no less.

I went to God and asked for His help.

I Thought I Had Forgiven

I thought I had forgiven her and for the most part I had, but I guess there was still more to go because there it was as I prayed—the justification for why I was feeling the way I was feeling! When you forgive someone, you don’t justify. Period. The minute you justify, you are stating your case for unforgiveness. So I had to ask the Lord to help me forgive her and work on my heart.

The Bigger Loser

You see, if you don’t forgive, you end up being the bigger loser, not them. Unforgiveness eats at you like a cancer that over takes you. And by the way, this unforgiveness goes for ones who are now dead and yourself as well. Unforgiveness simmers and takes over as bitterness. Your face structure can change because you wear a scowl and your health can become compromised—all because of unforgiveness.

God wants us to forgive! Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15: “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.”

I want to forgive because I want to be forgiven, too!

“Blessed are the merciful, because they will be shown mercy” – Matthew 5:7

This goes for yourself, too. If you are embittered against yourself for some past mistake or shortcoming, forgive yourself. Then, to the best of your abilities, let it go and move on. Bitterness and regret are not part of God’s plan for your life, but forgiveness is!

“God calls upon the loved not just to love but to be loving. God calls upon the forgiven not just to forgive but to be forgiving.” – Beth Moore

Stop Fighting

There comes a time in life where you have to lay your sword down and begin the healing process and forgive. There may be consequences to your battle, but you still need to forgive. The Father commands it.

“”You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven.” — Matthew 5:43-45a

Will you pray this with me?  “I surrender all Lord! I surrender my heart to You Lord, and ask that you help me forgive those I hold unforgiveness against. Transform my heart God. Help me have mercy and forgiveness on others as You have had on me. Amen.”

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Our Focus of Adoration

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Ever have one of those bad weeks where nothing seems to be going right and you can’t quite get your footing back and your thought life straight? It feels like everything is raining down and you can’t find your way out of the oppression to just breathe!

Well, I had one of those periods recently and I learned some key things that I want to share.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” — 2 Corinthians 10:5

Arguments and Pretensions

Be aware of what “sets itself up against the knowledge of God”:

  1. Any thought that comes upon you that is not a positive one is not coming from the heavenly realm. Period.
  2. The enemy uses subtleties to whisper that you don’t measure up around anyone, anywhere, or anytime. He’s subtle but consistent. Listen to your thought life, and then demolish those arguments by taking those thoughts captive!
  3. It’s not just the enemy to blame for our shortcomings. What are we admiring more than God? Where is our focus? Is it great financial blessings, popularity, happiness?

We have a responsibility in this too. This is where I want to concentrate.

I Lost My Way

Steve and I have been on a faith journey that the Lord has most definitely put us on for almost 5 yrs now. This was not what I had planned for my life.Steve had a good job/ career with a big company. We were making good money. But the Lord called us out to walk a walk of faith with Him.

The walk at times has not been easy, but the blessings have been numerous!  I’ll be honest though, at times I have become very weary and during that is when the enemy floods my mind like a kamikaze pilot on an air strike!

  • I start to focus on the lack in my life of material things.
  • I get scared that I can’t plan like I want to for our future and then I get really unhappy.
  • I begin to measure my life up against others and feel ashamed and then I’m blinded to all the blessings that are staring me straight in the face!

So what’s happening? Why do I cycle like this? And admit it, I’m not the only one. You don’t have to be in a faith walk to go around this mountain.

My priorities have gotten out of whack. I’ve learned the key is in my prayer life.

Prayer Life

Everything begins with prayer, right? In Matthew 6:5-18, Jesus talks about prayer and actually gives us an example of how to pray in what we call The Lord’s Prayer. It starts with adoration and then confession.

We are to begin with “…hallowed be thy name”. Hallowed – reverent adoration! We begin with focusing our praise and adoration on Him. God is sovereign and just and He is worthy of our praise to Him.

The reason I felt heavy at heart is that my adoration was not focused on God and His sovereignty, but on the things in my life that I adored. I focused on what I wished I had and not on what God has given me – the God of this universe who chose to walk with me through this life this way! The richness and depth in my relationship with Christ has grown in such a way that far out weighs the material wealth I wish I had.

But don’t you see? If we become “out of whack” in this area this will off set every other thing that comes after that. Our confession, which is next, will be all about not having what we adore. We have to get our focus off of our self and the life we think we’re in control of.

The focus must be on Christ! He is our Savior, our healer, our deliverer. Only through Him can we accomplish anything. Re-direct your focus and it will help you not go around the mountain yet again.

Make Him the center, make prayer the most important tool you have and watch the change around you and in you happen!

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