Intimacy With Your God!
~A teaching explaining the importance of developing an intimate relationship with God~
What is it that God desires from us, that brings Him more pleasure, than anything else? The answer can be summed up in one word: INTIMACY.
"And I will set my tabernacle among you; and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people" (Lev. 26:11-12).
A constant theme throughout the entire Bible is the theme of fellowship between man and God. God does not simply want our service; He wants our companionship, our friendship, our fellowship, and our intimacy.
The Bible tells us that, in the same way that a man desires intimacy with his own wife, the Lord God desires intimate closeness with His Church: "For your Maker is your husband -- the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit, a wife who married young, only to be rejected, says your God" (Isaiah 54:6, NIV).
This is the level of intimacy God desires with His people, but the sad truth is that very few Christians are relating to God on that level. Most saints in our generation have very little idea of what it's like to be spiritually intimate with God; we have settled for "churching" with routines, religion, traditions, programs, a few tears and a shout, instead of seeking out the deep, spiritually-satisfying intimacy we were designed for! Beloved, that is not what God calls intimacy!
When the appointed time came, God wrapped Himself in human flesh and actually walked among His people for 33 years in the form of Jesus Christ. But out of the thousands who met Him, very few actually developed an intimate relationship with Him!
When we take a close look at the people who followed Jesus during His public ministry, we can see that not everyone who was with him WAS WITH HIM.
"Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria . . . large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him" (Matt. 4:23-25, NIV).
Wherever Jesus ministered, there were always great crowds of people about him, watching, wondering, hoping, and questioning. But understand this; just being part of the crowd does not mean you have a relationship! (These were the same folks who later cried, "Crucify him!")
"A large crowd followed him and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years . . . when she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, 'if I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.' Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering" (Mark 5:24-29).
Notice: although many were around him, only one person in the entire crowd drew close with the desire and the faith to be blessed by him. Beloved, there are lots of people who crowd themselves into churches today without crowding near to God! they have no faith in God, no love for God, no desire for intimacy; they only come to see the show! But as long as they are simply part of the crowd, they have nothing coming from God.
Out of the large crowds, Jesus worked with seventy in the spreading of the gospel (Luke 10:1). These seventy workers were given authority in Jesus' name to cast out devils (Luke 10:17-19).
Now, you would think that after being used by Jesus in this manner that they would desire to be closer to him, but we learn later that nearly all of the seventy had no true commitment, even though they worked with him in the ministry!
"Then Jesus said, 'verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you'. . . many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, 'this is a hard saying; who can hear it?'. . . from that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him" (John 6:53-66).
Even though the seventy had tasted the privileges of authority, they had a limit to their commitment: they didn't want to get "too spiritual!" Instead of trusting Jesus to help them understand his words, they decided that he was simply too fanatical for their taste and turned back! Beloved, we have saints like this right in our churches! They don't mind a little work, joining an auxiliary or two, or even praying with a few folks. But ask them to fast for a season, to rise early and seek God's face, to trust God for spiritual manifestations, healings, a word from Heaven, and you may find yourself standing alone!
The Twelve, the Three, and the One...
Out of the seventy, there were twelve that Jesus chose; we know them as the Twelve Disciples. These were they whom Jesus called His friends. But even out of these, Jesus only hung closely with three of them (Matt. 17:1-9), and out of those three, only his love for one is often mentioned (John 20:2, 21:7). Out of all the people that Jesus had met in his lifetime and who had called themselves his followers, it was only with these few that Jesus shared his most intimate moments; it was to these that He said, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer" (Luke 22:15, NIV); it was these that he wanted with him when His soul was troubled in Gesthemane (Mark 14:32-34).
Beloved, are you truly seeking intimacy with your God? Are you praying, worshipping, and learning about Him? Do you have an earnest desire hear His voice? Ask yourself right now: "Am I part of the twelve? Am I intimate with my God? Or am I simply part of the crowd?" The answer, dear believer, will determine where your soul spends eternity...
~Pastor Ron Barnes