Writings From Pastor Lyons

March 29, 2020

INTIMACY WITH GOD

Intimacy with God is a very interesting subject.  It is available to you personally.  Intimacy is as accessible to you as any of God’s promises.  God invites you to have fellowship and be intimate with Him.  Here is where you put your faith to the test more than anything else.  James 1: 2-4, Consider it all joy my brethren when you face various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance and let endurance have its perfect result in order that you may be perfect and complete LACKING NOTHING.

Defined: Intimacy is what we call the experience of really knowing and being known by another person.  We usually use relational language when describing this kind of an experience.  An intimate friend is someone we feel very close to.  They know us at a deep level.  If something or someone happens to damage the intimacy with our friend or loved one, it is a challenge to our future relationship.  As with any relationship, often our fellowships are casual and superficial, then life moves on.  The question becomes interesting when we ask ourselves what makes us feel intimate with another person.    While there are many ingredients to intimacy, we know that every relationship has its own different recipe.  But one thing common to relationship is the key word TRUST. The backbone to any relationship is TRUST.  When trust is compromised, the relationship begins to deteriorate.  

NOW TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER --- THE HEART OF INTIMACY WITH GOD

This is as true with our relationship with God as it is our relationships with other human beings.  The experience of God’s nearness or distance is not a picture of his actual proximity to us, but of our experience of intimacy with Him.  God’s Word (scripture) shows us that God is intimate with those who TRUST HIM.  The more we trust God, the more we understand intimacy.  Listen to this:  Feeling distant from God is often due to a disruption in trust such as in sin or disappointment.

This reality is vitally important to understand.  As Christians, we need to experience intimacy with God.  Remember the Psalmist said this, for me it is good to be near God (Psalm 73:28).  We want to heed James’ exhortation and realize this promise:  Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).  But, we can seek that nearness in ways that don’t produce it.

INTIMACY IS MORE THAN KNOWLEDGE

One common mistake is thinking that nearness to God can be achieved through knowledge accumulation.  Now, if our desire is to know God, we must know crucial things about Him.  Jesus said, You will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32), and he pointed out that many worship to whom and what they do not know (John 4:22).

Never in the history of the Christian church has so much theological knowledge been available to so many people as it is today.  The American church enjoys the greatest access to such abundance of knowledge.   We all are aware of Bible translations with thought -provoking reading, insightful articles, recorded sermons, interviews, movies, music, and more.  And much of it is very good, and it is right to be very thankful but is it teaching intimacy?  What about Enoch, who walked with God in a profoundly intimate way (Genesis 5:24 and Hebrews 11:5)?  Why?  Because knowledge is not synonymous with trust, that is why Jesus said to the religious elders of His day, (some who possessed a great knowledge of scripture):  You search the scripture because you think that in them they have eternal life, and it is they who bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life (John 5: 39-40).  Biblical knowledge is one thing but walking with God is a relationship on a higher level.  God’s Word is to fuel our trust in God, because it fuels our intimacy with Him (Psalm 19:10) --- but, when biblical knowledge replaces our trust in God, it only fuels our pride (1 Corinthians 8:1) 

WHY SOME GOOD LOOKS, FEELS GOOD EXPERIENCES FAIL

Another common mistake is trying to achieve intimacy with God through feelings alone.  Intimacy is beyond feeling good.  You even might call this a field of dreams that soon fades away.  If you build on the truth IT MATTERS.  Truth brings results.  God will provide if you have a thirst.  Consider this:  your purpose in life is to pursue and live a life in an intimate relationship with God.  Salvation is our rescue from sin and the sentence of death because of sin, but intimacy is to find life with Him.  Yet, when we consider pursuing intimacy, our carnal mind must settle the issue of misconceptions and hesitation. 

What then are our common misconceptions about being intimate with God?

  1. Intimacy is the same as sex.  To many the word “intimate” is sexual.  It is a difficult conflict to settle when you are talking about God.  First, we must understand that GOD IS A SPIRIT.  How confusing could that be when you are worshipping in spirit and not a body?  Well, with such a liberal world we now live in, the masses need to understand really who God is and the understanding of the Godhead.  Isn’t it just like Satan to take a word and pervert the real meaning about the intimacy of God?
  2. Intimacy should be easy.  Intimacy with God really takes a lot of effort.  Far too many Believers cannot and will not sacrifice the time to be intimate with God. I ask the question: “Do you want to find an intimate relationship with God?”  If so, then intimacy requires some sacrifice and takes you away from your comfort zone.  Blinded by carnality, you don’t know what you are missing.  If you’re settled in your ways without sacrifice, perhaps you are forfeiting God’s will.  And the scripture says “why halt you between two opinions.”
  3. Intimacy does not involve waiting.  We sing it but do we do it?  The song writer said, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.  They shall mount up with wings as eagles.  They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk any not faint.  Teach me Lord, teach me Lord to wait.”  Life today is all about instant gratification.  Learning to wait is an attribute of intimacy. 
  4. Intimacy with God is only for special people.  To the Believer this is just a plain cop-out for lazy and unlearned people who are passive about the heights and depths of the ways of the Lord.  There is only one true God.  Proverbs 3:5-8, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”  Verse 7, “Be not wise in your own eyes.”  All this requires being intimate with God with the support of the Holy Spirit.

HOW CAN I EXPERIENCE TRUE INTIMACY WITH GOD?

Answer:  True intimacy with God is something that has been sought by Christians since Christ walked the earth.  It is natural for Christians who long to experience the closeness of an intimate relationship with God.   But true intimacy with God is not just a feeling on par with a personal romance.  It goes much deeper than emotions, but intimacy goes down to the very fabric of our soul and reflects our daily actions.  “For the Lord detests the perverse but takes the upright in His confidence” (Proverbs 3:23).  God will not have competition with evil or disobedient Christians.  True intimacy with God begins with you and me drawing near to Him.

God will not draw near to those who do not draw near to Him.  The way we draw near is through righteousness.  GET RIGHT WITH GOD.  You take the first step and then “you are drawing near to God and He will turn His face toward you.  Cleanse your hand oh you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded” (James 4:8).  Certainly, God will never draw near in intimacy with the unrighteous but with those who have been cleansed by the blood of Christ and have received His righteousness at the cross.  2 Corinthians 5:21, “having their hope of intimacy with God.”  In fact, it is only by those who have been saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8) who have that hope.  Remember, Christ is the hope through which we draw near to God (Hebrews 7:19).

Jesus is, in fact, the model of intimacy with God because He and the Father are one (John 10:30), and no relationship can be closer than that oneness with the Father that Jesus experienced.  His relationship with the Father was characterized by love and obedience.  In love, Jesus came to earth to do His Father’s will.  He did nothing on His own, but in all things, He did the will of His Father (John 5:30).  This was most evident in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion.  Suffering in agony with the anticipation of what was to come, Jesus asked that the fate He was about to suffer might be removed from Him.  He ended the prayer by saying, “Yet not My will, but Your will be done” (Luke 22:42).  Here we see a perfect example of true intimacy reflected in obedience as Jesus yielded His will to that of His Father.

If we hope to attain true intimacy, then Jesus must be our model.  “We love God because He first loved us” (1 John 4:10) “and we must prove our love for Him by obeying Him.”  Jesus told His followers, “if you love Me, then keep my commandments” (John 14:15).  When we obey Him and keep His commandments, He promised that we shall remain in His love, just as He remained in  the love of His Father by doing the Father’s will (John 15;10). The conclusion is this:  there can only be intimacy with God when we are in good fellowship with Him through obedience.  Then we can know the joy and peace that comes from trusting Him and by yielding to His will, just as Jesus did.  What a relationship we can have with the Master when we draw close.  (gotquestions.org)

CONCLUDING REMARKS ABOUT WILDERNESS TIMES

As we live life there are times when we walk through a wilderness and dry seasons.  God’s words say (Psalms 46: 1):  “God is our refuge and our strength.  A very help in a time of need.  Therefore, we will not fear though the earth may change, and the mountains slip into the heart of the sea.”  (Verse 4) “There is a river whose streams make glad, the city of God.”  We need to keep building ourselves up into His holy dwelling place of the Highest because God will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we can endure.  God has given us amazing promises.  “If we seek Him with all our heart, He will reveal Himself to us” (Jeremiah 29:13).  Intimacy with God and others has an intended purpose of life both here and in heaven.  It may take time and effort, but it will prove itself in a transformed life and extensive joy as we dwell and experience God’s presence.  You will never be the same person when once you understand and begin to surround yourself in God’s presence. 

We end this time together with a note of joy as we think through this beautiful song, But until then my heart will go on singing.  Until then with joy I’ll carry on.  Until the day my eyes behold that city, until the day God calls me home. What about Verse 1:  My heart can sing when I pause to remember a heartache here is but a steppingstone.  Along the trail that’s winding always upward, this troubled world is not my final home.  But until then my heart will go on singing, until then with joy I’ll carry on.  Until the day my eyes behold that City, until the day God calls me home.

If those words BUT UNTIL THEN urges us on each day as we embrace the thoughts how our Lord Jesus suffered and died and was resurrected for you and me could be partakers of God’s intimacy.   “But until then my heart will go on singing.”

Remember this: “THIS IS NOT OUR FINAL HOME.”  GOD BLESS TILL WE MEET AGAIN.

 

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