The glorious adventure of getting to know God begins at the point of salvation and extends throughout this life and into the world to come. A personal relationship with the Creator of the universe is a privilege worth pursuing with all of one’s heart!
This Bible study begins with the assumption that you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, have received the free gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8) and have entered into a spiritual relationship with God through the indwelling of his Holy Spirit. If this is not true of you, then one of the greatest experiences known to man still awaits you, if you are open to it.
Jesus Christ came to the Earth over 2,000 years ago to repair the broken relationship between man and God by paying our sin debt on the cross and making possible an intimate and life-changing relationship with God for those who open their hearts to Him. Those who receive this gift of new life (Romans 6:4) are called Christians because Christ lives in them and they have the awesome privilege of getting to know Him personally. The Apostle Paul began his life by persecuting Christians, but later preached that knowing Christ is life’s ultimate blessing – more valuable than everything else in his life combined (Phil. 3:8).
“I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things.” Philippians 3:8
The prophet Jeremiah stated a similar truth when he said: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
Where do you stand with God? Do you have a distant relationship? A close relationship? No relationship at all? God loves you and wants to have a personal relationship with you. In fact, you were created for this very purpose! If you will take the time to draw near to Him, you will discover that a close relationship with God will meet your deepest needs in a life-transforming way and lead you into dimensions of joy, meaning, purpose, eternal hope and healing that you never thought possible!
Where is God on Your Priority List?
If most of us are honest, we will have to admit that quality time spent with God often falls closer to the bottom of our personal priority lists than it does to the top! We have so much on our minds – and so much on our plates – that it is difficult to “find time” for God.
Our desires to know God, to draw near to Him and learn His will, to study His Word, and to fulfill our kingdom responsibilities on the earth become easily eclipsed by earthly concerns. As Jesus said:
“These are they which… hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful” (Mark 4:18-19).
It must be amazing to God that we human beings spend our lives frantically chasing after such small blessings as earthly possessions and attainments while the infinitely more valuable blessings of eternal life and fellowship with the living God are
Even well-intentioned Christians, through the busy-ness of their schedules and the multitude of their earthly cares, possess spiritual lives that become “choked” (literally, in the Greek, “completely strangled”), cutting off their much-needed supply of spiritual life, power, and refreshment. Jesus said it should be exactly the opposite:
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? [But] seek ye first* the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:31-33).
Let us never forget, despite the many good things which we may be attempting to do with our lives, our number one responsibility is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first* commandment” (Mark 12:30).
*Greek: proton: In order of rank or importance
Priority Number One – Give God time!
If you are a born-again Christian, you are above all people on the earth most privileged, for the Spirit of the Living God lives within you and you may have an audience with the King of Kings, the C.E.O. of the universe, any time that you desire!
Hebrews 4:16 tells us that we are able to come confidently before His throne to find “grace to help” in our “time of need,” which is, realistically, every minute of every day.
To “seek first the kingdom of God” means that it is more important than any other element of our lives that we invest in our relationship with God and His soon-coming kingdom.
Though we are all called to be servants, God never wants our service to come between us and our relationship with Him. Rather, the demands of our responsibilities should intensify our relationship, as we rely upon Him for the grace, wisdom, guidance and spiritual strength we need to serve Him effectively.
Leaving God out of our Lives is not a Small Thing!
Many people have the attitude that “I am a good person and have lived a decent life; therefore, I must be all right with God.” In fact, this may not be true at all! Why? Because:
(a) They may have lived their entire lives without ever developing a close relationship with God.
(b) They may have never taken the time to seriously seek God’s specific will for their lives.
(c) They may have made their own decisions, lived in their own strength and pursued their own goals without ever consulting God or learning to walk in obedience and fellowship with Him.
(d) They may have never developed a prayer life in which two-way communication takes place. The French theologian Fenelon once wrote, “How rare it is to find a soul quiet enough to hear God speak.”
(e) They may have never taken the time to study God’s specific instructions for living the Christian life contained in the Bible. In many cases, the Bible lies in the busy person’s pile of “unread mail.” If you really want to hear from God, try this: Open your Bible and read! If you give Him a chance, He may send you a “text message!”
Are You and God Strangers or Friends?
The Bible tells us that God desires to have a close friendship (John 15:15) or partnership and intimate fellowship (John 15:5) with us, but we are often too absorbed in other things (even good and important things) to spend quality time with him. I once met a man who told me “God and I have a great relationship. I leave him alone, and He leaves me alone.”
Other people tell me, when asked, “I believe that there’s a God out there somewhere.” But for a relationship that is supposed to be likened in intimacy to marriage (Ephesians 5:25-27), this falls far short of what God has intended for us. What wife would be pleased if her husband, when asked about his marriage relationship, replied “I believe there’s a wife out there somewhere?”
Still others visit God twice a year, confine their relationship with Him to an occasional visit, or see Him for one hour a week on Sundays. This is not exactly the picture of a strong and healthy marriage!
The Bible tells us this about Jesus and His relationship with God:
“In the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:35) This should be a startling verse for us because it tells us the sinless Son of God made it a priority to spend time alone with God in prayer. What would make us think that we can live prayer-less, self-powered, self-directed lives and hope to succeed in fulfilling God’s will for us?
Jesus modeled a life of intense devotion, fearless dedication and selfless surrender to God. He did not live in occasional contact with God, but in continual fellowship and moment-by-moment obedience. Of His Heavenly Father, He said: “He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29). He should be our example!
A Relationship with God Begins with Salvation.
Real personal fellowship with God is not possible until our “sin debt” is paid for, and this happens only when we accept the free gift of salvation which Christ purchased for us on the cross. If you have not received this gift, pray as follows: “Dear Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross to pay for my sins and rising from the dead. Please forgive my sins, come into my heart to live, and save my soul. Let me know that when I die, I will go to heaven to be with you. Help me to live a life which glorifies you and blesses others. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
How to Cultivate a Closer Relationship with God.
(I) Give God time! Dedicate some portion of your day to meet with God alone in fellowship, prayer and communion.
During this time you can: (A) read a portion of Scripture; (B) open your heart to God in prayer; (C) be still before God and listen for His “still small voice”( I Kings 19:12). Psalm 46:10 says: “Be still and know that I am God”; (D) thank Him for His blessings! (E) praise God and worship Him for who He is; (F) meditate on His greatness and the truth of His Word; (G) ask Him to show you His will for your life; (H) confess your sins and ask Him to forgive you; (I) ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit and to give you the strength to serve Him; (J) pray for God to bless and help others.
(II) Talk to God and relate to God throughout the day and realize that He is always with you, not just in “special times” such as your daily quiet time.
You will never be in any situation or circumstance where God is not with you: “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). What a promise! What a blessing! What a privilege! Let us not take it for granted).