Walking in intimacy with God is something that many do not give a second thought to. Yet, the Bible tells us that God is quite aware of those who take the time and make the effort to do so–with great spiritual rewards. It is worth noting that God is not looking for people who live flawless lives, but rather, he islooking for people who recognize Him for Who He is, and are willing to prostrate themselves before Him and ask for His blessing. Are you one of those?
Jeremiah 30:21b is a Scripture I would like to bring it into this discussion because of the challenge I find in it. It says this:
“I will bring Him near and he will come close to me, for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?” declares the Lord.
We read the biographies of great men and women of God and are moved by the things they experienced and the way God moved through them. Yet, how was it that they had the story that they did? Why did God honor them as He did? Was it just arbitrary, or was there something that God responded to? In each story of a man’s life, there will always be something that God responded to. It had to do with sacrifice, commitment, faith, and many other things, but the thing that stands out above the others, is that they pursued God! Do you pursue God? Do you have the desire to do so? The spiritual benefits make it very worthwhile!
Our greatest aim in life should be to seek the Lord! Psalm 27:4-8 puts it this way in the New International Version:
“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.
“Hear my voice when I call, O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
Psalms 63:1-4 says this:
“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.”
In practicing the presence of God, we are seeking Him. One must desire His friendship and companionship, and open our hearts to God in worship, meditation, and praise as we have been discussing in this series. This has to be a personal encounter that we seek; not a copy of an experience someone else has had with God. It must be personal! None of us can really do without the abiding presence and daily strength in life we must have from God. If we try and manufacture this for ourselves, it will not carry us. For those that do decide to pursue God, He promises them companionship. Psalms 27:8-10 tells us this:
“My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.”
In Psalms 9:9-10, what is it that He promises us? It is protection.
“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
How many of us wonder how provision will be made in the difficult days ahead? This is a black cloud hanging over the heads of the entire world today. Here is what God promises to those who pursue Him. Psalms 34:10 promises God’s own this:
“The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing!”
In a world full of hate, distress, stress, worry, God’s Word promises gladness to those who dedicate themselves to pursue their God. Two scriptures below put this into words:
“Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. (Psalms 119: 2)
“But all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, ‘Let God be exalted!”’ (Psalms 70:4)
Then we find a promise of “goodness” in Lamentations 3:25-26:
“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
And then there is reward promised in Hebrews 11:6:
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Contrary to the way the world sees things, in fact, contrary to the way many in the Body of Christ live their lives today, GOD is the answer to everything! There is no arguing the point! The problem for most of the church in the West is that we can make some kind of provision for every lack that we experience, because we’ve been so blessed by God’s abundance in the last decades. But, what would happen if we lost it all? Would we immediately be able to switch to a life of faith, trusting God for everything? It would be hard on most.
We serve a supernatural God, and the supernatural is normal for Him. It is not for us. Practicing God’s presence is crucial today! We need to get used to it, because it could very well become the “norm” of survival in a hostile world. I’m not saying that the true Church will be required to go through the Great Tribulation because I happen to believe it will not. Yet, most “Christ-followers” today are not prepared for the difficult things coming as the “birth pangs” get worse and worse. Most of us have no clue as to what will be unleashed in the days ahead–possibly even before the Great Tribulation. We need to focus now on our pursuit of God.
Hunger for God. Real hunger. Do we really have it? Do you? Apparently King David did, and that’s one of the reasons why God saw him as a man after His own heart. Here’s what he had to say in Psalm 42:1-2:
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”
All of us have drives in our lives? All of us have pursuits. What is yours? How does it affect the priorities in your life? Is it a selfish pursuit? Is it a pleasure? Is it a craving? Is it a habit? Is it an addiction? Where will it take you? Are there negatives to it that you’re reluctant to face?
How does God see it?
Pursuing the Lord is like no other pursuit. God intended for us to delight ourselves in Him. This means that we really enjoy His presence in our lives. The end result is that we become like some of the characters in the Bible that God puts before us as examples of real, normal people who experienced the best from God. Enoch was one of these. Genesis 5:22-24 gives us a very quick summation of his life, but we should not miss the point made in the Genesis record. Enoch really did walk with God!
“And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”
Then there was Noah. First of all, Genesis 6:9 says this about him:
“Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.”
I would like to add verse 22 to the “biography” of Noah:
“Noah did everything as God commanded Him.”
There is an old hymn titled, “Trust and Obey”. The Christian life is pretty much summarized in this title. Anyone that wants to be pleasing in God’s sight, must live what is said in this title. God will back us to the hilt as His children, but our part is that we “Trust & Obey!” This was the story of the prophet Noah!
Walking with God is a tremendous privilege–and it’s available to every human being on earth! How about you? Do you walk with Him? Or do you just come to Him when you’re facing a disaster and you have no other place to go for the answers? God will meet a person at such a place but what a greater blessing it is to walk with Him 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week!
Many Christians have even learned the value of walking with God and then allowed themselves to be pulled away. How tragic! There are people in all walks of life are walking away from the closeness they once had due to other interests that crowd into their intimate lives. Two of these distracting influences are money and power. As tragic as it is, they left their closeness with the Lord of their life and began serving another god–mammon. Money, power, and everything that can be gained with it are a trap that catch many. 1 Timothy 6:6-15:
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
People that get caught up in the things mentioned in the Scripture above miss out on the real meaning of the Christian existence, which involves sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to His Word. We find this in the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42:
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha’, the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”’
This really does tell the story of so many of us. We’re concerned about so many things! Concern is not wrong, but when it cuts into our intimate relationship with God, we are naturally going to suffer lack and get hurt. How many of us are even guilty of this spiritually? There is so much to do! So much that we take time away from our walk with God! So much that we forget to keep our priorities under control of the Holy Spirit. We can even be busy doing the work of the “ministry”, and miss out on the work of the Spirit within our own lives! None of us can afford that. The “work of the ministry” has no real value if it is not empowered by the Spirit of God.
How many churches pursue activities and programs that are not specifically directed by God. Instead, we get involved in our own traditions or agendas and often miss the very thing that is actually God’s plan for His church and we miss the blessing that God had planned through it. That’s one reason God hates “religion”. It is because it has a form but denies the power of God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit needs to have the freedom to change our direction, our agenda, what drives us individually or in ministry. If we don’t allow that, we will eventually find ourselves paddling our own boat upstream. We will just work hard but accomplish very little for the Kingdom of God.
A true pursuit of God will put us into a place where God rules. If God does not truly rule, we’re missing the boat, and that will be one of the works mentioned in 1 Corinthians 3:12 that will be no more than hay or stubble and be burned up at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Many pastors, evangelists, and church leaders will find themselves standing before the Throne of Christ barely having made it because instead of the Spirit of God being allowed to run their agendas, they ran them themselves, and for their own purposes, no matter how spiritual they may have sounded during their earthly lives.
Today is the day to make sure that we are really on board with the agenda of the Spirit of God and not our own. Time is short…very short, and we should all want to finish well–in God’s eyes, not our own, or of those around us.
Continued in Part 11