A Personal Relationship
with God Does God seem far away from you?
Do you find your spiritual life boring?
Do you wonder what is missing in your life?
Are you even sure that you are saved?
Now is the time to draw near to God!
What do you think about God? We casually refer to Him, talk about Him, read about Him, and some even blasphemously take His name in vain. But what is God to you? Is He merely an infinite but impersonal Being, unconcerned about everyday life? Is He a Personality who is generally confined to elaborate worship experiences in ornate churches? Is He simply a religious fact that we must accept if we expect to go to heaven after we die?
If these inferior views characterize you, I have good news for you! The infinite, eternal, glorious, and awesome God who rules over heaven and earth is closer to you than you might imagine! Let me introduce you to the real God who has created the universe and presently sustains the existence of everything, both seen or unseen. He wants you to have a personal relationship with Him!
Phases of Knowing God
Imagine that you are walking through the woods on a delightful, bright spring morning. You observe the tender green leaves as they begin to appear in the once-barren trees, you see the intricate flowers and delicate petals as they grow along the pathway, and you see and hear the woodland birds as they fly from limb to limb, uttering their spring songs on this beautiful day. You feel the warmth of the sun and are awed by the fleecy clouds as they drift high above you on the breezes of the sky. You conclude that surely God exists and that He is both wise and powerful to have designed such an amazing world of nature.
Imagine that you are sitting at your desk, with open Bible before you. As you read chapter by chapter Gods life-giving words, with open heart and mind, you see described on the sacred pages the God of creation and the revelation of His only Son, Jesus Christ, for our salvation. The Holy Spirit uses this word to convince you, even deeper, that God loves you and has provided for your forgiveness and eternal blessing. You are convinced of the truthfulness of God, His Son, and His Word.
Have you experienced anything like this? I have! Ive been persuaded of the existence and power of God through His natural revelation and have been convinced of His plan of salvation through Christ through His special revelation, the Bible.
However, my friend, God has planned far more than this for us. He wants to share Himself with us! He wants for us to come to know Him personally, experientially, and have sweet fellowship with Him moment by moment through the day! God wants you to truly know Himintimately and personally!
Where are you in this? Have you come to believe in God through His creation? Have you seen Him clearly presented in Scripture? Have you gone beyond this by entering into the spiritual dimension of a personal knowledge of God Himself?
the Unseen, Unheard, and Unknown
The Bible says that God gives to all people life and breath and all things (Acts 17:25). This infinite God is not far from each one of us for in Him we live and move and have our being (vv. 27, 28). Although He is the invisible God (Colossians 1:15), and no one has seen Him or can see Him with their natural eyes (1 Timothy 6:16; Hebrews 11:27), yet this God wants to have a deep, intimate, and personal relationship with each of us! This is incrediblealmost too good to be true! But it is true!
The vast majority of people on earth are spiritually alienated from God because of their sin. However, He doesnt want anyone to perish in their lostness (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). Instead, the Lord God wants us to come to Him for forgiveness, through Jesus Christ the Savior and Mediator (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5). Amazingly, we can be reconciled to God through the death of His Son (Romans 5:10; cf. vv. 6-11; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Colossians 1:21). If we repent of our sins and believe in God and in His beloved Son, and express this by being baptized into Him (John 3:14-18, 36; Acts 2:37-41; 22:16; Romans 6:3-11; Colossians 2:11-13), we will have a true, living, and saving relationship with God Himself. This is good news! This is the wonderful theme of the Bible! This is true for you and me!
What do we mean by a personal relationship with God? Although God is spirit (John 4:24) and unseen (1 Timothy 1:17), we yet are able to have an intimate and incredibly meaningful relationship with Him every moment of every day! He doesnt want us to have a cold and lifeless relationship, but a warm, deep and spiritual one at all times!
You see, we dont have a tangible or bodily relationship with God since He is spiritual and has no physical form or nature. Further, God generally doesnt audibly speak to us so that we can hear with our physical ears. However, our relationship is actual and true. It is spiritual and supernatural!
Well not discuss at length the difficult but important question of the relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at this time. We know that Jesus departed for heaven and sent the Holy Spirit as another Helper (John 14:1-12, 16-18, 26; 15:26-27; 16:5-15). At the same time, Jesus said that in some very real way He would be with us to the end (cf. Matthew 28:20; John 14:18). We also know that in some way, God the Father is in heaven (Matthew 6:9; Eccles. 5:2), on the throne (Revelation 4:2-11; 5:1-7, 13), but He is also in us (1 John 4:12, 15, 16). (Weve produced A Scriptural Study of God that may be of help to you.) At this time, we simply want to explore the personal relationship we can have with God, our Creator, Sustainer and Father. Lets discuss this reality and how we may experience it in our own life. Notice each of the following points carefully and ask how you may apply them to your own life.
How to Grow in Our Fellowship with God
First, be absolutely sure of your relationship with God.
It is extremely essential that you are sure that you are Gods childHis true son or daughter (2 Corinthians 6:18). Only a person who has been born again spiritually by God through the Holy Spirit is His child (1 John 3:1-2). Although hundreds of millions of people on earth assume they are Gods children, they are sadly mistaken and deceivedfor Jesus said plainly that only a few are truly saved, forgiven, redeemed, sanctified, and born again (Matthew 7:13-14, 21-23; 22:14; Luke 13:23-24).
So we sincerely and earnestly encourage you to examine yourself and determine whether God is your Father through the new spiritual birthso that you may have a true relationship with Him. Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5). Examine yourself in this vital matter!
Second, we need to be convinced that God actually is with us.
John speaks of this when he writes that God abides in us (1 John 4:12, 15, 16; cf. John 14:23) and we abide in God (1 John 2:24; 1 John 3:6). In fact, there is a mutual indwellingwe in God and God in us (1 John 3:24; 4:16). This speaks of the closest possible relationship. Believe it. Trust that the Word of God is true in this and find delight in this personal relationship. In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever (Psalm 16:11). We may begin to partake of this joy right now if we truly know this glorious God!
Third, be constantly aware of Gods presence.
Weve seen above that the Bible teaches it; now begin to experience it in your heart and mind. When you are washing your dishes, driving your car, doing your office work, laboring on your job, walking along the sidewalk, or cleaning the house, simply be aware of the Lords presence. Both Enoch and Noah had such a close relationship with the Lord that it could be said that they walked with God (Genesis 5:24; 6:9). If this was true of people during this early age of the earth, with limited revelation, it would surely be true in this age of Christs fuller revelation and spiritual light (cf. 2 Timothy 1:9-10; John 1:16-18).
Fourth, realize how vital it is to truly know God.
Only as you truly know God can you have the knowledge of salvation. Our Savior prayed, This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3). Salvation and eternal life are equated with knowing God. The false Watchtower Witnesses use a defective translation that says, This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you. While our knowledge about God and His truth is important, even essential, Jesus here refers to a personal, intimate knowledge of God Himself. According to God, one of the blessings of the new covenant is that all will know Me (Hebrews 8:11; Jeremiah 31:34).
Peter emphasizes that grace and peace are multiplied to us in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord (2 Peter 1:2). He further states that we have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2:20). Our personal, spiritual, saving knowledge of God through Jesus Christ is absolutely needful for our life and eternal salvation!
Fifth, be encouraged when you read of people of God who knew Him and rejoiced in His presence.
Read the Psalms, the letters of Paul and Peter, and other portions of Scripture to see the reality of living close to God. Asaph said to God, I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand, and, As for me, the nearness of God is my good (Psalm 73:23, 28). Do you rejoice to be near God? Do you sing, with meaning, the devotional songs, Nearer my God to Thee, Closer to Thee, and many others that speak of personal intimacy with the Lord?
David prayed to God, You . . . are intimately acquainted with all my ways. . . . When I awake, I am still with You (Psalm 139: 3, 18). When you awake in the morning, what is the first thing on your mind? Better yet, who is the first one who comes to your mind? Is it God your Father? Is it Jesus your Savior? Further, do you think of God when you retire for the night, and when you awake through the night? Notice Davids view of God:
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water. . . .
When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches,
For You have been my help,
And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me (Psalm 63:1, 6-8).
Sixth, have continual sweet fellowship with God.
Our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3). Fellowship means sharing or participation. God is personal. He is not a human person, but does have personality. He has personal attributes or qualities of love, kindness, gentleness, mercy, patience, and truthfulness. This is the kind of God that you can have a daily, moment by moment, relationship withas you remember His desire to be acknowledged by you at all times. He can be your closest Friend, your most trusted and loving Companion (James 2:23; Isaiah 41:8; Job 29:4).
Seventh, speak to God through the day and night.
True friends communicate with each other, sharing their thoughts, views, perspectives, ideas, and plans. How much more should we speak to the Lord and listen to Him. While some people believe that they hear Gods audible voice or even see some kind of form or vision, this is probably a mistake, for we relate to God by faith in our spirit and not through tangible or physical means (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:8). However, it definitely is true that God speaks to us through His Word (cf. Hebrews 1:2; 3:7, 15; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Revelation 2:7; Acts 28:25). And it is also true that we can freely speak to the Lord in prayer.
Prayer is speaking to God our Father (cf. Luke 6:12; Romans 10:1; 15:30), in the name of Jesus Christ (John 15:16; 16:23-24). God even says that we are to be devoted to prayer (Romans 12:12; Colossians 4:2). We should pray at all times in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 1:3) and pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is a key in your relationship with God!
Eighth, depend on God during your times of trial.
We need to be aware that the Lord is with us at all times, wherever we may be. But be especially mindful of His presence when you are going through distressing circumstances, times of pain, experiences of rejection, occasions of deprivation, and crisis times. When Paul was being persecuted in Corinth, the Lord assured him, I am with you (Acts 18:10). When the apostle was imprisoned before his death, he wrote, The Lord stood with me and strengthened me (2 Timothy 4:17).
Although we may not hear the voice of Jesus (or God) as Paul did at this time, we yet can be assured of His presence when we go through the difficulties of life (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10). God says, Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10). The Father assures us, When you pass through the waters, I will be with you (Isaiah 43:2). Yes, He will be with you and me!
Ninth, confess and forsake all known sin.
If there is any known, deliberate, and unconfessed sin in your life, you will not be able to have a relationship with God (cf. Hebrews 10:26-31). Isaiah says that your sins have made a separation between you and your God and He does not hear your prayer (59:2; cf. Psalm 66:18). When one seeks to pray with sin in his life, it is an abomination to the LORD, but on the other hand, the prayer of the upright [righteous] is His delight (Proverbs 15:8). Make sure that you repent and confess all known sin so that you may be forgiven (1 John 1:9), and ask God to show you unknown and hidden faults (Psalm 19:12-13). Forsake sin! Otherwise, we cant have a relationship with our Holy and Righteous God.
Tenth, live an obedient and holy life before the Lord.
The only way to have a true and intimate relationship with God is to be like Himin His purity and holiness. Only those who are holy will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). Jesus also said that only the pure in heart will see God (Matthew 5:8; cf. Psalm 24:4). God is only intimate with the uprightthose who are righteous before Him (Proverbs 3:32b). Notice how important it is that we obey all that God requires of us in His Word: The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him (1 John 3:24). The Lord Jesus said, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him (John 14:23). You cant get around this. Jesus our Lord said that only those who love Him and obey His words will have both Him and God dwelling in them as a spiritual home!
Eleventh, consciously turn away from that which would divert your attention away from God.
Modern living does not foster a closeness to God. The noise of worldly music, the trash on television, the corruption on the internet, the foolishness on the radio, the distraction of sport competition, the secularism and humanism of education, the assault of advertising, the demands of our joball of this draws us away from the closeness of God. If you seek to be close to God, you must keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1). Paul writes, Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth (v. 2). Our mind needs to be renewed so that we can have undistracted devotion to our God and commune with Him (Romans 12:1-2).
Twelfth, use every means to foster a closeness to God your Father.
If you have turned away from the world and its deceitful ways (see above), you need to do all within your power to live with a spiritual frame of mind. Read your Bible to discover Gods will, Gods truth, and Gods ways (2 Timothy 3:15-17; Acts 17:11). Obtain one or two song books or hymnals, then sing those songs that encourage a closeness to the Lord. Keep a journal in which you record your thoughts and meditations in your quest for the Lord. As we earlier mentioned, pray to the Lord regularly. You may be able to find tapes or CDs of a cappella singing that exalts God and the Lord Jesus.
Encourage your spouse and every member of the family to think of the Lord and His will through the day. In your daily family devotions or family worship, emphasize a closeness to the Lord. During one difficult period of my life, I went to a park with gardens and enjoyed a weekly prayer walk with God in the midst of the flowers and under the trees. Do all within your ability to emphasize an uninterrupted fellowship with God.
Thirteenth, seek the Lord in special times of need.
Sometimes in life, you may sense a special need to draw near to God. Maybe you are going through a particularly difficult trial that has crushed your spirit. Perhaps you are facing a perplexing crisis that has no discernable answers. You may have come to the end of your resources and lack the knowledge to find the way of escape.
Sometimes we just need to get away from the demands of everyday life and draw near to God. One time I stayed in a deserted campground for three days, to fast and pray for Gods closeness and wisdom. I daily read Gods word and walked extensively, conversing with the Father. On a number of occasions in the past, friends gave me the privilege of staying for some days at their vacant property in the country, to seek Gods face. I read His word, prayed, and brought my broken heart before Him, undistracted by the noise and duties of life. As you have opportunity, use times like this to pursue your relationship with God. Find seclusion and quietness to seek Gods face.
Pursue a Knowledge of God
We are living in a world that provides a thousand distractions to our spiritual relationship with God. We must fight this with all of our strength! Scripture encourages us:
Come, let us return to the LORD. . . .
So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth. (Hosea 6:1, 3).
From the depths of our heart, we must sincerely and earnestly press on to know the Lord and cultivate a warm, personal, saving relationship with God.
There is so much more in the Bible that shows the privilege and blessing of having an intimate relationship with the God of heaven. Remember that God is not only high, exalted and transcendent, but He is also immanent or dwells with us and in usif our heart is sincere and right. Thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spiritthe one who trembles at My word (Isaiah 57:15; 66:2). God is not too high, too great, or too exalted to genuinely know you and be with you!
Think a little further with me. The God with whom you have a relationship is called your heavenly Father (Matthew 6:32). As a loving Father, He cares for you, provides for you, and protects you (Matthew 6:8; 7:11). Share with Him your needs, your cares, your pain and heartache, your problems and perplexities, your loneliness and rejections. We are encouraged, Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). The Father is not at all indifferent to your burdens; He wants to hear your words and He can see your tears. Scripture promises, Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken (Psalm 55:22).
Our Father in heaven will be with you even when problems come, when people reject you, or when a loved one dies. Just remember to draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8). With God near us, and for us (Romans 8:31), and with us (2 Chronicles 15:2), and in us (1 John 4:12), surely we can find absolute security in His love (cf. Romans 8:35-39). Remember also this promise of God to you: I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you. . . . The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me? (Hebrews 13:5, 6). Let us take comfort and encouragement in this blessed assurance of His presence and help at all times.
If you are a child of God, one who has been spiritually born into His eternal family (John 3:3-7; 1 John 3:1-2), you may experience this intimate and saving relationship with God your Fatherthe Ruler of heaven and earth, the creator and sustainer of all things, and the One with whom you will dwell in eternity (Revelation 21:1-7).
On the other hand, if you dont know God and are yet in your sins, you are missing the most wondrous and blessed privilege possible! If you refuse to turn from your sins in repentance and come to Christ in faith, then your present separation from God will be a final separation from Him for all eternity! (Matthew 7:21-23; 25:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Revelation 14:10-12; 20:11-15; 21:8). Instead of experiencing the grace, mercy, kindness, and love of God through eternity, you will receive His justice, judgment, and eternal wrath (Romans 1:18; 2:5; Hebrews 10:31)!
Come to God without delay! Turn to Him through Jesus Christ His Son (Romans 5:6-11; 6:1-11; 10:9-13). Dont miss out on this wondrous privilege of knowingpersonallyyour God and Father. You will then know the delight of a personal, spiritual, continual, intimate, and eternal relationship with God your Father!