By looking from the outside in, we can see that there is a redemptive cycle at work. This plays out in many of the daily experiences which happen in our lives. There are opportunities and times when God’s love triumphs over loss, where His peace transforms the things of earth into beauties of heaven, when a broken heart mends, and when renewal is accessed through living hope.
Even in nature we find our minds lift to see the order of life with its ceaseless cycles as part of God’s plan for redeeming all life for His glory. A redemptive scenario is at work every time we know of a tragedy to triumph occurrence. We can find it in the fire of destruction when we witness the mountainsides burning with forest fires, and then a year later we observe that these same hillsides sport new growth with the freshness of renewal. It is God at work within the natural renewal cycle. Death gives over to new life.
PREMISE: God has made us for relationship
GOING DEEPER WITH GOD (4)
QUESTION 1. What stops Christians from wanting relationship with God?
LIFE IS A REDEMPTIVE STORY
The first step through this door and into an intimate walk with God is to view God with new eyes. God is the Joy-giver, the Healer of our hurts and diseases, and the Re-newer of our minds. But to authenticate this message takes something remarkable and unusual, and speaks of a focused and rejuvenating desire for God. It’s not business as usual. We must experience God in a new way. Resolve is necessary. The empty feeling and our ‘going through the motions’ limited spirituality, needs to be replaced by the presence of God Himself . . . as we choose to become centered in Him.
In a sense, we will exchange our past spiritual experiences with a new ‘drawing toward God’ experience, and I am not speaking about a surface belief in God. It is heart knowledge in combination with faith and belief in God, for in the heart we find our desires. I believe that for anyone to know God with a growing sense of intimacy, they must first experience God at work in their lives. God must become real to them.
God desires for us to seek Him with hearts full of longing. In return, God can and will satisfy our deepest longings and fill our inner need for belonging. Check out Deuteronomy 4:31 for validation.
The ‘how to’ to open the door and follow God in such a way is to allow ourselves to become vulnerable. We have to let go of self (our box) and trust God to take care of us as we look in the mirror and see the state of our souls and determine to make the necessary changes as we seek to ponder the hidden depths that we quite naturally fear to scrutinize. To do so involves dealing with pain that is in us and whatever is locked tightly away in our memories. It requires renewal of our minds through God’s loving touch.
God is the Great Physician who understands us more than we do ourselves. He helps us see our faulty belief system and our inner hurts, woes, stumbling blocks, areas of bondage and self-protection. Through God’s wise and skillful sword of the Spirit, He penetrates through our layers and barriers to reach us in our place of need (often hidden from view). It may take a broken heart to get our attention sufficiently. In the transition we will transform, morph, from “me” centered, to “God” centered.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken spirit and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10.
There are many scriptures that confirm a need for brokenness and humility before God. I am not sure it is possible to experience God in this way until we have yielded ourselves in brokenness and humility before Him as we humble ourselves and see our own depraved thinking and self-stuff. As a result, we are able to open our empty hearts until they fill to overflowing with His love. We have moved our natural self-serving bent out of the way. In that vacuum, God has given us His living water for our thirsty souls. It is a supernatural work of God in us and a spiritual quest of grand proportions
QUESTION 2– Is it worth it to have a loving relationship with God? Why?
HOW IT WORKS
We may feel that God has given up on the world. The reverse is actually true. He sees a harvest field, ripe and ready, waiting for His touch, where we may see a hopeless field of weeds, not worth saving or not as possible. God seeks His own and has not quit His business of saving souls and bringing many sons to glory. And God doesn’t quit what He starts. In outworking His salvation in us, He has a plan for us to follow. But to do so requires an action on our part. God waits for us to ask before He will act.
Only God can remove our blinders so that we can see. Sins, fears, shameful experiences, poor choices, past hurts, and hardness will keep us in a limited spiritual box, a framework in which we are unable to be open with God. In addition, the blinders keep us from knowing ourselves and who we really are. And in this there is a mystery. It is as if we are a part of a puzzle with one piece missing, and that one piece is us. We need God to show us His divine plan for us so we can live our lives in God’s grace and power with a renewed mind and joyful spirit. Then our puzzle piece fits into its place. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me…” Psalm 139:23, 24. Jeremiah 17:9, 10, 14 also speaks to this end. It involves an active seeking.
Our spiritual journey began at salvation through Christ, His redemptive Presence in our lives. That was when we first recognized God at work in our lives. God had been working behind the scenes to draw us to Himself. He says He calls us. Ever since we first became aware of our spiritual need of a Savior, we began to experience a deep longing, which resides within us and that stirs and grows the more we seek God .
To take it to the next level, we begin to ask God for His healing and an awareness of our sin and sinful actions both past and present (unless already confronted). With this comes a desire for Jesus to reveal Himself to us. What will this gain us? We will find our capacity to receive God in fullness of love increases the more we seek Him and the more we get acquainted with Him. As a result, we begin to follow our Guide in the joy of close fellowship. The inner desire grows in us, this desire is for a oneness, a unity, a relationship that is genuine, pure, unadulterated, and real. This is life. Remember, Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He who follows him will not walk in darkness but will have the light of Life.
On a side-note, we are attracted to life. The day and age we live in is a culture that has a weird dance with death, it seems to encourage death when you look at it objectively. With an over-absorption with death, we find life as less fulfilling, and it is has a way of limiting the beauty of life. We must counter this message of death. We should pursue what is life- giving. Have you noticed how life is found in the light of the eyes? God gives life with His love. A person with the joy of God has an inner glow and you can see it in their eyes. The eyes speak. It is Christ-centeredness.
QUESTION 3– Have you ever known someone who has this light of God that shines forth? Did it arrest your attention? What are/were they like?
The process of seeking and finding God is a sort of baptizing by fire. As we seek God’s face, He begins a sifting process of removing the wheat from the chaff, the silver from the dross, the impurities from our lives. Critical to this process is access to the Godhead; Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. They meet us at the point of pain, repentance, and even conflicted emotions within the battlefield of flesh vs. spirit resistance. It is through this we will know the truth, and we will begin to become free from the lies and sin which have blinded and held us captive, unable to sense God as a real, true, and loving Father.
Many parts of our lives have blinded us from experiencing Christ as our Propitiation and Kinsman Redeemer. The sanctification we receive at salvation, Christ in us, has an on-going element. The qualities of Christ and His holiness become humble love through Christ while His life continually changes us from the inside, out. Our offensive traits leave bit by bit as Christ becomes our all-in-all. The opening statements in this lesson will not be true of us when the goodness and holy aspects of Christ’s Spirit and God’s holiness reign unfettered within us.
We have some work to do in order to be set free, a purifying process of looking inward and upward. God helps us in this. By the way, this continues on throughout life.
HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT: Ask God to begin a purifying work in your heart.
- Ask God for truths as He reveals the lies about yourself you have believed for many years.
- Ask for strength to receive what He has for you.
- Seek a sister or brother in Christ to share these revelations as God works in you.
- If you are fearful or know you have deep scars and wounds, seek Christian counsel to support you through this process.
- Expect there to be spiritual warfare. You have been in bondage and the “spiritual” facade with its pretending will be revealed and released.
- Meditate on Christ at the cross as you seek to share in his sufferings. Include reading gospel accounts of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Again, put yourself with Christ, at the garden, at the cross, and at the tomb. Imagine your joy as Mary sees her risen Lord as he reveals himself to her.
Jeremiah 29:12-14-“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord.”
Romans 12:1-2-“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—This is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
Galations 2:20-“I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life, I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
A COMMENT IS IN-ORDER–If you truly seek God you may be in for some surprises.
The floodgates may open. Pain may revisit you in your wakeful moments. You may experience a great watershed moment. It may take minutes, days, or even weeks, to release the pain of your past, your hurt with its corresponding wounds to self, to open an awareness of your own falsity in pockets of pride and self-righteousness, and to expose areas of harbored unforgiving thoughts found deep in your inner being. It is a painful process but a healing experience.
Simultaneously you may find yourself outstretched before God in love, harmony, and humbleness with a greater affection and awe of God such as you’ve never experienced or known before. I remember Beth Moore saying that for weeks she spent her days prostrate before God from the time her children went to school until they returned, so great was her finding of God and desire for Him. I could identify with her statement. When God gets your heart and you want more of Him, a thirst develops in you that seeks God with all its passion. It is one of the most beautiful of all God-to-human experiences. I wish it for you, my dear friends.