The greatest source of fulfillment and joy in our lives is, knowing God. We read in John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they might know You, the only True God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” We read in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” This is not only for eternity, but also for our relationship here on earth.
Not only does it bring great blessing into our lives, but it brings great joy to the heart of God. He is a God that enjoys relationship with us for He has created us for His good pleasure, the Bible says in Revelations 4:11, “for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” In the garden of Eden we see how God used to meet with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day and have fellowship with them. He did so, because He enjoyed their fellowship.
Friend or servant?
Jesus said in John 15:15, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant does not know what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” There is a difference between a relationship of a servant and a relationship with a friend. A servant focuses on his work and expects to receive a wage or a reward for what he does. This can be true with us in our relationship with God. If we expect God to bless us because of what we do something for Him, then we have a mentality of a servant. For example, if we preach well, or do something for God, then God we think that God will be pleased with us. Our identity must never be based on our ministry or performance, but on God’s love for us.
On the other hand, when we have the mentality of a friend, relationship is more important than performance. A friend does something for his friend because he loves his friend. Furthermore, he knows that the blessing he receives from his friend is because his friend loves him. The same applies to our relationship with the Lord. We do things for Him because we love Him and we know that He will do things for us because He loves us. Our relationship with God is not affected by our successes or failures, but by the revelation of His love for us, and what the Bible says about us.
We have the example of Mary and Martha: We read about this in Luke 11:38-42. Martha welcomes Jesus into her home, then goes to prepare a meal for Him. Mary, on the other hand, sits at Jesus feet and hears His word. We read in Luke 11:40, “But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me.” In verses 41-42, we read, “And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” There are some important principles of relationship that we can learn from this story.
First of all, our relationship with Jesus is more important than our ministry. Jesus said to Martha, “Mary has chosen that good part.” In another translation it says, “Mary has chosen the best dish.” In other words, her food is tastier than the food that Martha was preparing for Jesus. God is far more interested in our intimacy and love for Him than what we can do for Him!
Secondly, our relationship with God is one of the ways that we can conquer our fears and worries. Jesus said to Martha, “You are troubled about many things, but one thing is needed.” She needed to do what Mary was doing, to sit at Jesus feet and to listen to his word. If we have stress and worries, then the best thing we can do is to spend time in God’s presence. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto Me, all ye that are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
Thirdly, our relationship with Jesus will produce lasting fruit in our ministry. Jesus said, “Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Jesus said in John 15:16, “I have called you to go and bear fruit, and that your fruit shall remain.” Those who have an intimate relationship with God will be fruitful in their calling and ministry. The best workers are the worshippers!
When we make our relationship with the Lord our highest priority, we can expect the following:
- Our joy will increase. It says in Psalm 16:11, “In His presence there is fullness of joy.” Furthermore, the Bible says that the “joy of the Lord is our strength.” (Nehemiah 8)
- Our peace will increase. Jesus said in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace…” He is the Prince of peace, the source of our peace.
- We will grow spiritually. 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” The more time we spend in His presence, the more we will become like Him.
- It will fulfill the desires of our hearts. In Psalm 37:4 we read, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” In Psalm 16:11 we read that, “at His right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”
- Our relationship with God will protect us from the enemy. We read in Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Almighty will abide under the shadow of His wings.” In Nahum 1:7 we read, “The Lord is good and a stronghold in the day of trouble.”
- Our relationship with God will make us strong and give us great victories. We read in Daniel 11:32, “But those that know the Lord will be strong and do great exploits…”
- Our relationship with God will give us confidence in life. In Acts 4:13 we read, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, … they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”
- Our relationship with God will give us direction and purpose in life. In Psalm 16:11 we read, “You have shown me the path of life, in Your presence there is fullness of joy…” It is in God’s presence that we find the “path of life.” We also read in Proverbs 3:6, “Acknowledge Me in all your ways and I will direct your paths.” The word, acknowledge means, to know intimately.
- Our relationship with God will give us understanding. We have the example of Asaph, who wrote Psalm 73. He was confused about the suffering of the righteous and the prosperity of the wicked. In Psalm 73:17 we read, “until I went into the sanctuary and understood their end.” If we lack understanding, then the best thing that we can do is to spend time in God’s presence.
- We will become fruitful in our calling and ministry. In John 15:5 we read, “Whoever abides in Me and I in Him will bear much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing.” Just as a physical relationship between a man and a woman produces children, so a relationship between us and the Lord, produces spiritual fruit.
Keys to develop our relationship with God:
Firstly we need to have a revelation of who God is: For example, it is easy to relate to loving, joyful and friendly people. Therefore our revelation of God’s goodness and His wonderful attributes will motivate us to draw near to Him. For example in Exodus 34:6, “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” In Joel 2:13 we read “he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.” As we meditate on scriptures that describe God’s character and love, we will find it easier and easier to have a relationship with Him.
Secondly, our relationship with Him should be our top priority in life. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God…” We read about Jesus in Mark 1:35, how He got up early and spent time in prayer with His Heavenly Father. He was our example of how we should live. In Matthew 6:6 Jesus said, “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Notice it says here, “when you pray” and not what you pray. God does not reward us just because we pray good prayers, but because He sees our priority in pray. Therefore, it is good to have regular daily appointment with God.
Furthermore, our relationship with God should continue throughout the day. In fact David said in Psalm 132:4-5, “I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the Lord.” He even spent time with God before he went to sleep at night. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 it says, “pray without ceasing.” Another translation says, “Make prayer your main business.” In order to do so, we may have to get rid of many distractions that keep us away from God. In Matthew 6:6 we read, “Shut the door!” We need to shut the door to other priorities and activities. For example, Martha was distracted by much serving. We must also be careful that our ministry for Jesus does not take the place of our relationship with Him.
Thirdly, our highest priority should be thanksgiving, praise and worship. In Psalm 100:4 we read, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise.” In fact, most of our time should be praise, thanksgiving worship. In Matthew 6:8 we read that the Father already knows our needs even before we pray. Although prayer and requests are important, praise and worship will prepare our hearts for prayer. Our motive for our relationship with God is to be with Him and to minister to Him. In Psalm 37:4 we read, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Fourthly, we must walk in the light. In 1 John 1:6 we read, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” The nearer we approach any source of light, the more impurities we observe in the air. The same is with our relationship with God. The closer we get to Him, the more sensitive we become to sin and compromise. In Isaiah 59:2 we read, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.” Although we do not have to be perfect, in order to spend time with God, regular confession and repentance, will keep our relationship with Him, alive and fresh. In Ezekiel 14:3 we read about the “idols of the heart.” An idol is anything that usurps the place of God in our lives. Often we have to remove these idols in order to draw near to Him.
Fifthly, obedience is important. Jesus said in John 14:23, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” Our love and commitment to Jesus is demonstrated by our obedience. In John 15:14 Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” 1 John 2:3 says, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” If we find it difficult to draw near to God, we need to check to see if there are any areas of disobedience in our lives. Obedience is the fruit of our love for God. In other words, we obey because we love Him and not because we want to prove our love for Him. Our obedience is the spontaneous fruit of our love.
Sixthly, the importance of humility: In 1 Peter 5:5 we read that “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Pride is our greatest hindrance in our relationship with God, whereas humility gives us easy access into His presence. In Isaiah 57:15 says, “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit,…”
Seventhly, we draw near to God by faith. God is Spirit, and He communicates with us through our human spirit which we cannot sense or feel. In Hebrews 10:22 we read, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” Notice not in full assurance of feeling! In James 4:8 it says, “Draw near to God and He will (not may) draw near to us.” It is our responsibility to draw near to God, He has already made the decision to do so. It is foolish to ask God to draw near to us! Even if we have no feelings, we must believe that when we take steps to draw near to Him, he will draw near to us. Usually feelings will follow faith.
Finally: Our relationship with God is not a legalistic requirement, but should be a delightful and spontaneous experience. Just as we develop relationships with people, we can develop our relationship with God. We do not have to be super spiritual to do so! We can have a wonderful relationship today because we have been washed and cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Furthermore, our relationship with God will have eternal consequences. Jesus said in John 17:3, “This is life eternal, that they may know Him and Him whom he has sent.” Our intimacy and relationship with Jesus on earth will continue into eternity. Amen