Category Archives: Spiritual Growth/Development
J.I. Packer once said, “Knowing God is a matter of personal involvement–mind, will and feeling. It would not indeed be a fully personal relationship otherwise.”
I’ve wondered at times whether it was possible to have a fully personal and intimate relationship with a God who is, well, invisible. Sometimes I laugh out loud at how odd the whole faith concept is. I mean really, becoming ‘intimate’ with an invisible God?
But in the past five years of getting to know my Creator, I have become so totally convinced of His reality and His desire to be close to His children, that I am willing to sound like a complete kook in order to get this point across, that yes, it is indeed entirely possible to foster an intimacy with God closer than any human relationship.
Stay with me here.
The very word intimacy means “close familiarity or friendship… closeness…the intimacy between a husband and wife.” I may not be married yet, but I do know this: intimacy with another human being comes through spending quality time with the object of your affection. The same is true with God. In fact the Scriptures say, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us…”(James 4:4).
God yearns to spend time with us. What a thought!
Here are some practical tips I’ve learned over the years that have helped me develop greater intimacy with God through spending time with Him each day:
- Pick a Place. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35). If Jesus knew the value to retreating to a quiet place to spend time communing with His Father, how much more us? Pick a spot in your home or in nature that feels comfortable and make it your special Secret Place where you and God meet. Brew a hot cup of coffee or tea. Nuzzle in and greet your Father in heaven with a “Good morning Papa, how are you doing today?”
- Pick a Time. Not everyone is a morning person. I am NOT. But I have found there is no better time to spend with God than first thing each morning. It just feels…right. We must quiet our minds and still our souls in order to get into God’s presence. This takes time. You may start with 15 minutes and slowly increase, but I have found I need at least an hour to really have a meaningful quiet time. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God” along with Martin Luther, “Be still and let him mold you.” Be still!
- Pour out Your Heart. We sometimes assume God knows our every thought so why the need to share it with Him right? But Psalm 62:8 says, “Pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” Intimacy requires constant and consistent communication. He desires nothing more that to listen to us. Whether we are feeling lonely, sad, lost, weary or confused, God is there to hold us in His arms and assure us He is there.
- Practice Listening. God also has a heart He wants to pour out to us. He begins to let us in on intimate secrets that are meant for our very own heart and soul. Psalm 25:14 says, “The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.” It is in our special Secret Place with God that He unloads His Words, visions, dreams and so much more. It is there that He draws us into the deeper side of His heart and plans.
If we want God to mold, shape, guide and direct us in the way to go in life, then learning the art of being still on a regular basis is a must. Us and Him. Alone. Quiet. Disconnected from the world and connected to His Spirit. Making it a priority to connect with Him each day–through Word, Worship, Prayer, Silence– is the single best thing we can do in our efforts to know God more.
Eventually, being still before Him turns from a nagging discipline to a necessity we crave in the early morning hours each day. Magic meets His Holy magnificence and there’s no turning back.
*What are some tips you have found helpful in growing closer to God? Share in the comment section below!
If you’re anything like me, you’ve definitely said (or shouted) these words at a loved one at some point or another. Or perhaps you’ve had them shouted at you. I suppose we all need to be reminded on occasion that we cannot remain in our childish ways forever.
The same is true of our spiritual lives. The Apostle Paul, along with Peter and others, emphasized over and over again God’s desire for us not to remain as infants forever, but to ‘grow up’ in our faith to become mature believers. 1 Peter 1:2-3 says:
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (emphasis my own)
I believe Peter gave this instruction to the church at that time because too many Christians were turning out to be like newborn babies with stunted growth. After they accepted Christ and ‘got themselves into heaven’, they stopped there–at salvation. O what a shame! There is so much more to experience in God as we continue to ‘grow up in our salvation’ throughout our entire lives. It is a process and progression of growth over a lifetime.
So how to we grow from newborns to mature adults in our faith? I have recently had the privilege of watching a dear friend nurse her newborn baby girl. Here are a few things I learned that we can apply to our own spiritual development:
- Newborn babies form an intimate bond with the mother while receiving milk.
- Newborn babies are dependent upon the nutrients of the milk to grow and develop.
- Newborn babies need milk each day.
In the same way, we must form an intimate bond with God, as the Source and Provider of our ‘spiritual milk.’ We do this by spending time with Him reading His Word, praying and listening to His Spirit. It is not a ‘one off’ thing, but a daily dependency on Him for health and survival. Only then will His divine milk begin to flow in our lives in a very real way, nourishing us and transforming us into His likeness. As we begin to grow up along our faith journey with Him, He will entrust to us greater responsibility in our Kingdom callings and assignments. What a joy!
Choosing not to drink our spiritual milk on a regular basi is like committing spiritual suicide. We need to be nourished with the Truth of His Word, the strength of His love and the power of His Spirit each day to survive. As the saying goes, ‘Milk…it does a body (and spirit) good!’
Have you had yours today?
**What are some ways you stay spiritually nourished in the Lord?