What are some examples of having a personal relationship with God/Jesus?
Our church is adopting a new format where, instead of a sermon, the lead pastor and I are leading interactive discussions with the congregation. For this Sunday, the topic is "How to Have a Personal Relationship with God."
The Bible tells us to meditate on His Word, to love Him with all our hearts, to abide with Him and to pray without ceasing. However, there is little in the way of describing our actual relationship with God/Jesus. I would appreciate any of your thoughts on this topic. Thanks.
No doubt a lengthy book could be written on this topic. I can give you a few things that I have found to be helpful in increasing and maintaining my personal relationship with God/Jesus. Perhaps some others might find them to be useful.
1) Most Christians do not find it necessary, and have not taken the time, to read the Bible from cover to cover, at least once. They generally depend on what they hear from their church pastors and priests to learn what the Bible says.
Yet, John referred to Jesus as "the Word" (John 1:1,14). Essentially, Jesus is the One who "wrote" the Bible by impressing His Word into the minds and hearts of all the human authors of the books of the Bible. Valuable information about Him and all that He has done, as God, can be found throughout the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
We want to know as much as possible about the friends with whom we have our closest relationships. One of the best ways to know as much as we can about Jesus, the best Friend any of us has and ever will have, is to read every word of the Bible and connect countless "dots" about Him, many of which we cannot know any other way. The following list can be printed and used to read the Bible, chronologically, in one year, with each entry being checked off after it is read:
2) Jesus loves to be thanked and appreciated (Luke 17:11-19), not only for the things He directly does for us but also for our acknowledgement that He is the Creator of all things and, indeed, holds everything together (Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:2,10). Many Christians feel that God the Father created all things. The way I see it, the Father conceived of everything; He used Jesus to bring everything into existence and to put everything in the universe in its place, including the Earth and everyone on it; and the power of the Holy Spirit animates everything and keeps it all together, under the direction of the Father and the Son.
The beautiful things in nature are all around us: flowers, animals, lakes, rivers, now-capped mountains, deep valleys and everything else. Just taking a long walk outside in a wilderness park or a forest should remind us of the eternal power and divine nature of God/Jesus (Romans 1:20), and we should be impressed by His wonderful creative ability. Not only should we thank Him for this, but we also should appeal to Him to help us focus on the details of things that we do just as He has created, with perfect detail, everything around us.
Of course, it is important that we regularly thank Jesus for shedding His precious blood for the atonement of our sins. But it also is important that we thank Him for having created everythingóincluding the heavenly realm where our deceased loved ones and friends who are believers have goneóas well as for utilizing the Holy Spirit to communicate with us and to give us the blessed hope that we will be with Him, and with those who already are with Him, for all eternity. Earnestly thanking Jesus for His countless blessings pleases Him, strengthens our relationship with Him and prompts Him to continue blessing us in ways that we least expect and cannot yet fathom.
3) Ask Jesus to be part of the simplest things in our lives. For example, when I misplace something and cannot find it, I know that Jesus knows exactly where it is. I speak out loud and say, "Lord Jesus, please show me where it is." Not uncommonly, within seconds, one of two things will happen. Either I will look nearby or across the room and see the object, or I suddenly will remember where I put it and go retrieve it.
A similar example is when I know there is something I need to do but have forgotten what it is, such as walking into another room to get something but not recalling what it is when I get there. Sometimes, if I glance around the room, I will see what I wanted to get, but not always. At that point, I will ask the Lord to cause me to remember what I have forgotten; and, virtually always, it will come to mind. On occasion, it may take going back to the room where I had the original thought, and then it will come to mind.
I am absolutely convinced that, when either of these things happens, it is not a mere "coincidence" (as most of those in the world would consider it) or just that my mind remembered, on its own, where or what the object was. Rather, the Lord sent the Holy Spirit to impress upon my mind what I needed to recall. I immediately will give Him the credit for enlightening me with what I needed to know; and I will thank Him, usually repeatedly, for demonstrating His love and caring for me by revealing it to me.
4) It is essential, for eternal salvation, that we acknowledge Jesus as Lord and believe that He was raised from the dead (Romans 10:9,10). Many Christians seem to feel that, by believing these things, we no longer need to ask Him for forgiveness for our frequent sins. Some even justify their sins by saying to themselves that He already has forgiven them and no longer has a problem with our sinful nature.
However, it is important that, as much as possible, we strive to be aware of our ongoing sins and lack of obedience and ask forgiveness for them; by doing so, He regularly forgives us and purifies us from our unrighteous in our daily lives (1 John 1:8-10). If we wrong a good friend with whom we have a close relationship, it is important that we acknowledge our error and ask for the friend's forgiveness. Likewise, it is important that we do the same with Jesus, our closest Friend, to demonstrate how much we love Him and long for Him to remain close to us all the days of our lives and forevermore thereafter.
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