Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Getting Closer to God

8 Come near to God, and he will come near to you.
[James 4:8a]

   “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
      With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.
[Jeremiah 31;3b]

I had a message from a potential new friend on one of the penpal sites I'm a member of. he asked me to help him get closer to God. i wrote back and asked if he was a Christian and he told me he isn't. this message is for that new friend and anyone else in the same situation, wanting to get close to god but not knowing how.

Firstly, it is good and right for human beings to desire to get close to god. There is, as I have heard it said, a god-shaped hole in all our lives that only he can fill. When we desire to get close to god we are doing one of the things we were created to do.

secondly I am writing this from a Christian perspective but i am not in any way trying to force anyone to convert to Christianity;  although if anyone wants to do that i am more than happy to help in any way I can and I would certainly encourage anyone who is not a Christian to check out Christianity for yourself, at the very least read one of the gospels and learn about Jesus.

Thirdly, God is very willing for us to get closer to him.   To those who seek  him in earnest he will be found. The bible promises that if we draw near to God he will draw near to us [James 4:8a]

so how do we get close to God? God knew that there would be those who would seek him and he provided ways for us to draw near to him, primarily through prayer and the study of God's word,the bible. We will look closer at these ways.

1: Prayer.
If we desire to get close to god then all we have to do is speak to him and ask him to help us draw near to him. He is just waiting for that word from us. He will never force himself  on us so he waits for us to make the first move. Remember the story of the prodigal son? [Luke 10:25-37] The son had to make the first move but when the father saw him coming he ran to him and embraced him and had a party to celebrate his coming home. The son began to come back to the father, just like we have to make the first move, but when we do the father runs to meet us and if you give your life to god and ask Jesus into your heart then there will be a party in heaven because of you. If you want to know more about asking Jesus into your life I have another message called "Do you know Jesus?"  that talks more about that.

Prayer doesn't have to be difficult, we don't have to use formulas and phrases that others have written. We can talk to  god like we would talk to a parent or a friend whom we respect. The more simple and sincere our prayers are, the better. god wants us to be honest and talk to  him about what we feel and what we need. We  don't have to be in church to pray, we can talk to god any time anywhere, and in fact we should talk to him more and more while we go about our day's activities;  as well as setting  some time aside to be alone with him, talking to him and studying his word.

2. reading and studying the bible. God has given us a  book that is all about him from start to finish. There are stories of how God helped his people in difficult situations, stories about Jesus, messages from prophets  who told people what god wanted them to hear, and messages from some followers of Jesus who wrote to churches in the time after Jesus lived on earth, just to name a few things that you will find in the bible. The bible is called the word of god because though there were 40 human authors, god's holy Spirit took their words and breathed life into them.  here are a couple of verses that talk about the power of god's word:

12For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword,
penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature],
exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.   
[Hebrews 4:12]

16Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error
and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God's will in thought, purpose, and action),    So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.   

So, if we want to get close to God we can't ignore the bible. Different people will give you different advice about where you should start reading the bible, in the book of john  or in the book of Acts or in some of the later books like 1 John or even in the book of Proverbs or the book of psalms in the Old testament, it doesn't really matter where you start, as long as you do start. There are some wonderful resources on the internet for studying the bible, commentaries and concordances and things that will help you understand passages that are hard to comprehend. what I suggest is that you pick a book of the bible, say one  of the Gospels or one of the epistles, wherever   you want to start from. Before you read spend a few minutes to pray and ask God to  be your teacher and help you see things that he wants you to know. Then read a chapter  or even a few verses, and stop and think about what is being said and let the Lord show you what he wants you to learn from your reading. That's just a suggestion to get you started, you  can ask god to show you how he wants you to study the bible, how much he wants you  to read each day and what book of the bible he wants you to study. I suggest that you take one of the bible books and work through it. There are other ways such as taking a topic and looking for all the bible verses relating to that topic, but I think we tend to get  more out of our bible study  if we take a book of the bible and go through it verse by verse. Remember I'm not a pastor or theologian I'm  just sharing with you out of my own experience as God enables me, and how you choose to study the bible is between you and god. the main thing is to take some time each day to read and think about a passage of the bible, a few verses or a chapter or whatever you feel lead to do. Another important aspect of this is that god expects  us to live our lives by what the bible  teaches, so we need to read the bible so we can see what we should and shouldn't be doing.

here's a message I hesitate to share.  John 14:6 says this:
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

it's good to want to get close to God but if you avoid the truth about who Jesus is and if you don't ask him into your hart to be your Lord and savior then you can't be  saved. i pray for all of you to get saved.

Well I hope I have given you a few pointers about getting closer to god. Another thing I would strongly recommend is that if you can, find a Church in your area and start attending on a regular basis. I know it's difficult in some countries to do that but if it's at all possible, being part of a Church family will help us grow closer to god.  I will leave you with that thought.

Lord God I thank you that there are those who desire to get closer to you and get to know who you really are. Reveal yourself to them I pray, as they study your word and spend time with you.