How to Begin a Real Relationship with God
|Have you ever had someone try to change you into someone you’re not? God has it happen to him all the time. Often, we try to make God into someone we think is preferable, picking and choosing certain characteristics that make us feel good while discarding others aspects of who he is.
Most often, the result is an imaginary "god" who is friendly and may help but has little to say about personal, moral decisions. Consequently, his "help" is limited to minor miracles rather than changing the direction or quality of a life.
According to the Bible, God is personal and distinct. His love and compassion are breathtaking and his moral standards are firm. Like a great parent, both forgiveness and direction are expressions of love. He dreams of and works toward a world in which people are growing wiser and loving better each other better than we see now.
According to Jesus, if one wants to know God, they must discover who he actually is rather than try to change him into something he’s not. In fact, one of the most important aspects of the resurrection is God’s reassurance that he can be known objectively as well as personally. If you’re ready to begin a relationship with God, the way is both simple and profound:
Know that God’s moral standard is higher than you think…
It’s far higher than any human can achieve. He’s perfect in love and compassion. None of us come close to his ideal so we need his help (Romans 3:23).
Realize that God’s justice applies to everyone (including us!)…
He will judge all humankind according to his standard (not ours). As humans, we can think our own actions (or inactions) are excusable. According to the Bible, we’ll all be judged without a curve. Heaven is going to be perfect and only perfect (or forgiven & growing) people are welcome (Romans 6:23).
Receive God’s grace and holiness as depicted in the cross…
How does God demonstrate his love and justice in such a way that we see him for whom he really is? Through Christ. The Bible teaches that the cross is both a powerful picture of God’s holiness AND God’s love. On the one hand, we see the judgment sinful people deserve. Christ was taking on the punishment for our sins. On the other hand, we see how much God loves us by giving his very Son for us (Romans 5:8).
Invite God to lead your life…
To receive God’s forgiveness and the new life he offers, one needs to “repent”. Repent means to say “I’m sorry for the past and I’m inviting you to lead my life in the future.“ It’s not a big ceremony, ritual, or process one goes through to earn God’s love. Rather, it’s much deeper! It’s a sincere decision to give one’s life to God. It’s a high risk move that requires faith. Nothing less (no outward act or religious verbiage or class) will be accepted by God (Romans10:9).
Who wants to worship a "god" they’ve made up? If you think about it, it’s pretty foolish to make a god in your own image. The resurrection of Christ, witnessed by hundreds who later died for their testimony confirms his power is true, that he really is the creator, God himself. More than that, the resurrection is a demonstration of God’s ability to change us, our families, and our world if we’re willing and humble enough to receive it.
If you would like to talk about these matters more, please drop a note to Mickey at firstname.lastname@example.org. More importantly, God himself is waiting to hear from you. His love for you is that great. In Luke 15, Jesus said that heaven celebrates when one person begins a relationship with God. Today could be your day.
Walking with God
Like any friendship, the key to a close relationship with God is time spent talking and listening. God wants to speak to each of us through his word and Holy Spirit and, in turn, invites us to “pour out our hearts” out to him (Ps. 62:8). A real friendship with God is THE fuel that motivates our love for God, love for others, protects us from temptation, gives us strength, opens up doors and gives meaning to life itself. The impact of walking with God really can’t be overstated. We hope every believer enjoys this kind of intimacy with Him. Because of his great love for us, he longs for it even more than we do.
We encourage you to take time daily. The place and time aren’t as important as just making the opportunity. Below are some great online resources. On the other hand, perhaps you want to just read God’s word as he leads you. The important thing is to respond in some way to his invitation to walk with him. If you don’t have a Bible, feel free to take one from POG this Sunday.
How to Talk to God (aka "prayer")
We pray because God hears and responds. He not only answers but changes our hearts (joy, hope, peace, courage) in the process. Here are some tips:
-Avoid formulas and meaningless repetition (Matthew 6:6-8)
-Be real-even when it’s negative (Psalm 62:8)
-Give thanks (he deserves it and we need it)
-Take time to worship (a small view of God leads to a small life)
-Tell him your requests (1 Peter 5:7)
-Pray for others too
How to Listen to God
The big idea is allowing God to transform our minds so that we know him better and see the world the way he does more and more (Romans 12:1). We believe the Bible is God’s inspired word for humankind so we invite it to change our values and perspectives. Simply put, we need to open our minds to God’s word on a daily basis. Ask God to speak to you (we don’t want reading for duty’s sake). Sometimes it feels miraculous and other times it feels like we’re merely learning. That’s OK.
Study Tools: Bible Gateway or Bible Study Tools
Devotionals: Our Daily Bread , Crosswalk or Back to the Bible
Overcoming: Setting Captives Free
Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels
Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster
The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard
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