Getting closer to God - Subtitles in many languages: click on [cc]

Uploaded by JRDViralVideos on 09.01.2011

Today we're going to talk about the first simple thing everyone has to do if they desire
to be Spiritually successful
being a Christian is primarily about our relationship with God so today we're going to look at how
to be closer to God
please pull out your message outlines and follow along with me in your Bible or in the
as I read first Timothy
four verses 1-8
now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last time some will turn away from
the true faith
they will follow it deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons
These people are hypocrites and liars
and their consciences are dead
they will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain food
but God created those foods to be eaten
with thanks by faithful people who know the truth
since everything God created is good
we should not reject any of it but receive with thanks
for we know it is made acceptable by the Word of God and prayer
If you explain these things to the brothers and sisters Timothy
you will be a worthy servant of Christ Jesus
one who is nourished by the message of faith in the good teaching you have followed
do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives tales
train yourself to be godly
physical training is good
but training for godliness is much better promising benefits in this life and in the life to come
8 simple steps
These steps are simple but they're not simplistic
and today I want to help you take the first step which I believe is the fundamental step
that we need
to take as Christians
and that is
make a commitment
to developing a more intimate relationship with God
now intimacy is important isn't it?
Many people have said that the quality of your life often
is determined by the quality of your relationships
and were all relational enough that we know that that's true
Mark Waltz has written a book and in it
it's on relationships, church relationships, relationships in the church and he talks about
the different
levels of the different
concentric circles of our relationships
that our our largest
circle is our public relationship in
you know that would be represented by all the people we run into at the store
uh... then there is a a social level
it's not the store but it's
some other setting maybe like SARC where we don't know all the names but we know the
you know I don't know your name but I know what kind of tennis shoes you wear
then there is a closer relationship
uh... which is our personal relationships
and in those relationships we not only know the faces but we know the names, we know
a little of the history maybe of those people
we carried on
some conversation with them about their life and
we've revealed some things about our life
the smaller circle but
profoundly important is our intimate
and those are the relationships where well we know them and they know us
They know us in our
good times and they know us in our bad times
they know our good side and well they've experienced us
every once in awhile in and a bad mood
Randy Freeze has written a book on small groups and in it
he talks about intimate relationships in these terms
you must have a few people in your life
who have refrigerator privileges
those are the people that you know well enough that when they come to your house you pretty
much sat “hey look if it's in there you can eat it or you can drink it”
You know “if you don't have what you want just tell me and I'll get you what you want” thats
refrigerator privileges
and when we give someone refrigerator privileges we know that well that's a close relationship
isn't it?
My simple thesis this morning is that
if you want to be more successful in faith and in life
there is a very high corollary to
success in faith and life in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ
the Bible
points out that
that intimacy is marked by
a desire to grow and mature
Listen to Colossians 4:12
Paul prays that you may become mature Christians
and may fulfill God's will for you
there is a maturity, a growth that
that needs to happen in our life. and isn't it interesting
the correlation he creates
he's really, Paul is really saying “if you want to know the will of God then you've got to
You've got to grow”
and if you don't grow and you do not mature then that's going to have an impact on your
ability to perceive and enjoy the will of God for your life
so we have to ask the question, you know is that what we want?
what does that look like?
I think two things
we want to draw close to God
that's going to require some at action
on our part
We often think that somehow our relationship with God is all about good intentions
and that's part of it but
there's a greater
element and that is our action
I'd simply ask you, “how close are how distant do you feel from God today?”
some of you
very honestly feel far away because you've been far away
and I hope today that you
feel the ability to draw closer to God today to make some decisive action in his direction
what I find interesting is that there's some people who have been around the church for
a long time
And they still feel
fairly distant from God
God's desire
is that we would have a close
relationship with him and that close relationship
is not about how we feel
but about our decisive action and Paul uses the word “training”
that we need to go into training
we need to have a training program that will move us along in the growth and
that God desires for us. It's our Scripture passage for this morning
do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives tales
instead train yourself to be godly
physical training is good. Notice he says it's good,
but training for godliness is much better
promising benefits not only in this life but in the life to come and
physical training is only really good for this life
When you die and go to heaven and you're going to get a heavenly body. The older I get
I always say thank God
because I'm not sure I want to take this one with me for all eternity
Our relationship with God is very present but it's also for all eternity
and so we need to
really see the essential
that developing of closeness with God
has in store for each one of us
That close relationship with God
is not about becoming more religious
Listen to what Paul talks about in Acts 17
this is when
Paul goes to Athens
and he's up on the Acropolis
and he's at the place of teaching
where all the scholars and philosophers went to teach all the people, in fact
as a family we stood in that very spot when we were in Greece
interestingly enough
someone was doing a Bible study on this passage as we walked up to that
that particular spot
Paul stood there and he makes a statement, he says I can see that in a everyway you're very
I look carefully at the objects of your worship
And I even found an altar with this inscription
“to an unknown God” they just wanted to cover all their bases
and that's the way that they were, very poly Theistic
and the way that they worshipped, he says now what I
want you to know what you worship is something unknown
I am going to proclaim to you
And what Paul simply says, you're trying to
identify a close relationship with God, I'm going to tell you how to have a close relationship
with God, what you don't know I want you to understand
and for this
morning what I want us to understand
is that
more religion, more “beads, bells and smells”
You have to be kind of a former Catholic like me or Episcopalian or Anglican to understand
that fully but
what I've tried to say is more ritual, although ritual maybe good, don't misunderstand me
it has its place
but more ritual more religion, that is not going to mean get you closer to God
because simply Christianity is not a religion
it is a relationship with Jesus Christ
and more ritual
is not necessarily going to create a greater intimacy
with Jesus Christ
the other thing I'd like to point out
is the truth that yes it is a little easier to feel intimate with God when everything
is going well, and
it is a little harder to feel intimacy with God when things are difficult or hard
and I think the foundation of that feeling
comes from the reality that we think somehow we can all only communicate with God
we can all only be in relationship with God when we're good and things are good
when we're good and when things are good
but yet we hear over and over again and read over and over again in the Bible that that's
really not true
that God does want to hear from us even when we've been bad
even when things are difficult or challenging or painful in our life
God is very interested
very interested in that
I found the words of Job
on this subject very insightful
Listen to what he says
but he God knows where I am going
and when he tests me I will come out
as pure as gold
For I have stayed
on God's path
I have followed his ways and not turned aside
I have not departed from his commandments
now what
Job is saying is that I know if I
continue on the right path
as I continue to follow
God's commands
as I continue to seek to have a close relationship with him I know one thing and one thing that's
God is not going to waste this difficult experience that I'm having
Job is convinced
kind of like a refining fire that he'll come out as pure gold
and the truth is most of us grow
more profoundly through difficult times than we do through good times
how many agree with that? probably every hand would go up
We grow more through difficulty than we do
through pleasure
and Job understands that
Job understands that this difficulty that he's experiencing, God is not going to waste
he's going to use it for good in my life, but what is the corollary
The training
God can only bring out the good that he wants to bring out
through the pain and the challenge in the difficulty of life if we don't depart from
Have you noticed when things are bad in your life, you have a tendency to revert back to
unproductive unhealthy things in your life
if you're a person of addiction that's
clearly what you do and
we might not be addicted but we've got a habit or two
and have you noticed that when things are painful or things are difficult in life you
have a tendency to
revert back to that unhealthy
attitude or behavior
and part of what Job is
saying is you know I'm not going to go
I'm not going to go do this, I'm not going to have this kind of a bad attitude I'm not
going to go and pout
What I'm going to do is be the person that God wants me to be
I'm going to follow his commandments even though they're not easy to follow
At this point in my life in fact
things are bad enough, you know,
I'm questioning
how the whole thing works
and sometimes we do question how
how the whole thing with God even works
that's why training is important
what kind of training
what kind of practical training is Paul talking about?
and I could make a long list, in fact
everything that I'm going to talk about in this series of messages
really is a part of the training program but
I thought I'd summarize it this way this morning a little phrase that I use every once in awhile
and that simply is “worship plus two”
if you want to develop a close relationship with God
there's three things you need to do
Number one you need to go to worship
because I think something happens and worship, corporate worship, it doesn't happen when
we're all by ourselves, so I don't know about you but the choral singing is not nearly
as good
when I'm alone in the shower
I mean I don't know about you but there is something inspiring to me
something moves
in my heart, in my soul, when the choir
I'm an extrovert so I don't like to be alone very often only when I'm sick
so something good happens when I'm hanging around other Christians
sharing the experience
and so I think worship needs to become a priority
in life now I know I literally am preaching to the choir here
because you're here today
So good for you, you're one-third of the way there for sure
what's the plus two? two other things. One is is, I think you need to be
in an educational venue, you need to be a Bible study
you need to get in a small group, you need to get in a Bible study, you need to have
Bible study on your own
if you don't know how to study the Bible give me a call, I'll send you how to study the Bible and
some material to study
and simply, if you don't study God, you'll never know God
Here, I'll give you an illustration
Christmas is just past, right?
and you either did well in gift-giving or you did poor in gift-giving and they just didn't
tell you because they're nice
you did well in give the gift giving if you gave a gift
that both expressed your love for that person
and it's the kind of gift that they wanted
it's interesting how we
have a tendency to give
gifts to someone
that are
their version of what we really want
you know, right? have you ever noticed that? you know, we like to read
and we think they like to read so we buy them a book that well, since they are interested
in this
Sewing or sports we buy them a sewing book Or a sports book thinking that somehow that's
the right
when in fact well that's maybe not their favorite thing to do
classic example is you know men like
toys and power tools and things like that so
we often buy big appliances for
our spouses
I tried it that one
went to Macy's and
said I want to buy a Cuisinart
and she put up this little teeny Cuisinart
and I said no you know understand I really love my wife
her eyes got real big in she says
you mean you want to look at the “Pro nine thousand?”
I said yes I do, bring that badboy out here
She laid that out on the counter.. that was true love! I said I'll take that one, wrap it up
and the other proof is women like perfume so men have all sorts of cologne they never
How do you know the right gift to give? You know the right gift because you
the other person
listen to what the other person says
you know that person
so you know the kind of gift to give them
that really showed your love, I think the same thing is true about God
we don't have an intimate relationship with God because we don't really know him
we think he's way up there and infinite so I can't really know him
No, I don't think that's true at all
We can't know everything
about God, but trust me I'm a man I'm still trying to figure out women
You can't understand everything about another human being but that doesn't mean there's
not a lot you can understand
so you need to be in a Bible study. The third thing is if you need to find a place of
service in the church
your service may not be IN the church
because the church, isn't just a four walls, I'm not saying that
you know you might end up doing
something out in the community or
even on the other side of the world
because of what God wants you do in terms of service
but we all need to find our place
and the reason we need that is if we
want to develop
We've got to have some outflow as well as Inflow. what happens if everything just
flows in and nothing flows out?
you become like the dead sea. that's the definition of the dead sea, I've been there
water flows into that, but no water flows out of it so it's a dead sea literally nothing
lives in there
No fish in the dead sea
that's what will happen to you
you have a intrinsic
uh... understanding of this
you know that you've got to utilize what's inside of you
and everything in the church is important
You're a ten
you know you're great at something
that's going on and we want to help you discover that and put you to work.
Somebody said oh you only say that, once they said this, you only say that because that makes
your job easier
it doesn't make my job easier and I'll tell you why
when everybody gets to work at the church you know what happens to the church? it grows
it grows
in fact I think... in this day and age
the growth of the church is often determined really by two simple things
your desire to invite somebody that doesn't go to church, linking is what we call it around
and then you're willing to serve
and when those two things are together
the church can't help but grow. And the bigger the church gets, trust me it's a little more
But I embrace and enjoy
that kind of work
I'll take as much of that kind of work that can come my way, that's what
winds my watch
About being a pastor
watching it all develop
helping it all to develop
I want you to develop in your intimacy with Jesus Christ
And your simple training program is worship
Bible study
Now one more thing this morning
and that thing it is that if we want to be closer with God
that'll be reflected in the wisdom
in the wisdom that we need is to realize that developing a relationship with
God like with anyone else
is not, is not instant
not automatic
now I understand that
there are those people that
experience love at first sight
but even love at the first site doesn't define an intimate relationship
mabye hormones but not
you know
attraction that you know, that chemistry
but not intimacy
and that's true in our relationship with
with Jesus Christ as well
there may be great
chemistry but we've got…
we've got to develop that
and that's not going to happen instantaneously it's not going to happen
automatically it's going to take some intentionality
on our part
that intentionality is one time
1 Peter 3:16
Continue to grow in the grace and knowledge
of our Savior Jesus Christ, notice what he says, continue to grow
it's going to take time
now you think
going to seminary and going to seminary some more
would be enough time
but interestingly enough just because I've gone to seminary and then more seminary
there's still plenty to know about God there's lots of growth and maturity to take place
and if you're going to
come to worship, if you're going to have a Bible study or be in a Bible study if you're
going to serve then that's going to take some time, it's got a show up on your calendar
and if it's not
Automatic and its not instant that makes sense that it's a process and we're going to have to
put some time in it.
second thing
is true
that it's it's not only time
but it's
intimacy that is developed
by our openness or vulnerability
here's a great
description of intimacy
and the man the woman were both naked and we're not ashamed
it's interesting to kind of take the emotional idea that and say wow
can I go to God and can I be so emotionally honest
vulnerable, naked before God
and feel good about it
well I don't know about you but
I don't know, sometimes
I feel bad enough I'm ashamed
I know I haven't done right, said what's right
had the right attitude
I anyone is supposed to know better I should
Shouldn't I?
It is great to realize that God loves me in spite of where I fall and fail and fumble
and there is a depth of a relationship
that happens between us and God when we can be that open and that honest that vulnerable
with him
because that happens in intimate relationships human relationships too..Right? true
the real intimacy happens when we don't have our best foot forward
when we haven't shaved or we don't have our makeup on
and that's very similar in terms of our relationship with God
our relationship with God deepens
particularly when we're not at our best.
Spiritually or practically
the reason for that is that the wisdom
is tied to
of us, our growth process
is primarily about character development
God wants to develop you on the inside because if the inside develops and all the rest of
it takes care of itself, it's a little bit like a person with a positive attitude
in general, things go better because you have a positive attitude
If you have a sour attitude watch out
Because you're in for
a bad day and you're going to give everybody around you a bad day
it is about character development
in our life
it is not just about mere knowledge
gaining mere knowledge
and it is not about just honing our skills
now more knowledge in better skills is helpful but we need to realize that in a relationship
with Jesus Christ more knowledge and more skill, those are vehicles
they are means to an end not an end in themselves
and learned that when I was in seminary
I ran into people who are really really smart
they knew more about the Bible theology in original languages than I did, than most people
but I ran into people that I wasn't too sure about where their intimacy with Jesus
Christ was
and the reason for that had to do with their character
they thought being smart meant that they were a good Christian
because they were very capable that meant that they were they were growing and maturing
in Jesus Christ and that's not necessarily true
they are not an end in themselves they are vehicle
only a vehicle, only means by which we grow and mature and develop
in intimacy with God but they are not the intimacy, the
foundation of the intimacy of our relationship with God
to me, the crucible of our intimacy with God
and our understanding that
faith development is not
instant or automatic
is the crucible of the conflict of our will and God's will
Our will and God's will
because I know
unlike Job
when there's a conflict between what we want to do and what God wants us to do we often
shun the commandments and instruction of God and we get off of his path and very
much on to our own path
and I'm more convinced of that in this day and age
than ever
because the culture has changed and not for the better in some way
and so every day
we have to choose, am I going to do what God wants me to do, or do what feels
good to me or what I think is right in my own mind
If we want to have an intimacy with God then
that is about yielding or surrendering
to God's will in my life even if I don't like it even if it's not easy even if it's not
convenient even if it's not
if we want to have an intimate relationship with God we've got to
move forward
in our relationship with him
Listen to what Chuck Swindoll says
he says the training now we're going back to the first point
the training we need
is that which corrects
molds and perfects our moral character
that moral character is forged in the crucible
of the conflict
of our will
and God's will
listen what Paul says in Philippians
he says I want to know Christ and experience
the mighty power
that raised him from the dead
I'd ask you that question
Do you want to experience
the power, the mighty power of God that resurrected Jesus from the dead?
if you do
you'll come to realize that that power is released through an intimate relationship
with Jesus Christ
It's released in our life when we
aather in
a spiritual training program
because that positions us
to know God
it positions us
to receive God's blessings
the first simple step
is a commitment to develop a
more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ
and making that commitment means you're saying yes what what Paul states, yes
I do want to know that power
I do know I do want to know God's love I do want to know God's plan in God's purpose for my
because once we say yes to him
our life can't help but the more successful more fulfilling
Let's pray
Lord you know where we
find it easy to affirm your will
and your way in our life
and Lord you know what the challenges that's before us
Lord you know that our intentions are good and help us to make good on our intentions
is going to take some time
we'll have to make
worship and Bible study and service a priority
Lord we're
We're thankful that you're developing us from the inside out and Lord you know where
our character could use
a little shoring up
further development
Lord we know that all happens through our yielding and surrender the Holy Spirit
Lord that happens because we make a conscious commitment
to develop
our faith, to grow and to mature
and thereby strengthen
a greater intimacy with your Lord, that's our prayer today
and so we pray your name, Amen
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