Together ... I Can Experience Intimacy

Description

John Maxwell offers ten commandments to help you experience deeper intimacy with God.

Psalm 63

INTRODUCTION:

In Psalm 63, the psalmist, who was so intimate with God, said some wonderful things: “You’re my God, and I worship you. In my heart I long for you, as I would long for a stream in a scorching desert. I have seen your power and your glory in a place of worship. Your love means more than life to me, and I praise you. As long as I live I will pray to you. I will sing joyful praises and be filled with excitement like a guest at a banquet. I think about you before I go to sleep, and my thoughts turn to you during the night. You have helped me, and I sing happy songs in the shadow of your wings. I stay close to you, and your powerful arm supports me.”

A few weeks ago I was coming from Dallas toward San Diego. About an hour out, the pilot said there was a problem with the instruments, and we had to go back. So we went back. So for the next 4 hours, we sat on the plane while they did the work. And while I was sitting on the plane, I got my Bible out and decided to read in Psalms. I've tried to do that on a weekly basis through the summer, letting them invade my spirit. I'm getting ready, this fall, to spend time with our board members on Intimacy With Christ, where we’ll study eight Psalms. Waiting on that plane, I took some notes, and I want to share something with you.

Good news:

God is above me to watch over me.     Psalm 91; 92:1-4

Therefore, I should rejoice in God.

 

God is before me to show me the way.     Psalm 23:3-4

Therefore, I should rely on God.

 

God is with me to give me courage.      Psalm 27:1-6

Therefore, I should risk for God.

 

God is around me to bless my life.       Psalm 63

Therefore, I should run to God.

 

God is everywhere, and He knows me intimately.        Psalm 139

Therefore, I should relax in God.

You really want to get intimate with God, read the Psalm and see how the psalmist constantly came to God for closeness. Now, the bad news is that in the human family, we tend to run from God instead of running to God.

Bad news: Our sinful nature causes us to...

1.  Disobey God.

We want to do our own thing, to have our way instead of God's way.  

2.  Distance ourselves from God.

Instead of running to him, we run away from him. Go to the beginning, when God came to the garden to walk with Adam and Eve after they sinned, there was a change. Instead of meeting him to walk with him and enjoying that fellowship, they ran and hid. God called, "Adam, where art thou?"

3.  Avoid responsibility for our sin.

When God confronted Adam and Eve, they immediately wanted to blame someone else for their wrongdoing. Adam wanted to blame Eve. Things really haven't changed, have they? Eve wanted to blame the serpent. No one wanted to take personal blame.

The good news is that we can get as close to God as we want to. Listen to what I call an "Intimacy Inventory." Whether it applies or not, let me just read it to you:

Intimacy Inventory:

  1. My mind and mouth switch to autopilot during hymns and praise choruses.
  2. The last time God answered a specific prayer is a dim memory.
  3. I feel guilty when I hear someone telling what they had learned in their quiet time, and hope they don't ask how mine is.
  4. I wonder where my joy went in serving God.
  5. I read my Bible and I pray because I should, not because I want to.
  6. I find myself critiquing the church service rather than growing from it.
  7. Those smiling, happy Christians get on my nerves.
  8. It's been a long time since I've been moved spiritually.
  9. I'm continually looking for ways to become less committed to the body of Christ.
  10. I seldom ask myself, "What would Jesus do?"

Now, this morning we're going to have communion. So I know I must really hasten through the "Ten Commandments to Develop Intimacy." I wrote down for the service 10 things that I believe really enhance our closeness and intimacy with God.

Ten commandments to develop intimacy:

1.  Take personal responsibility for becoming intimate with God.

The Psalmist said, “Search me and test me.”

The first thing I would share with anybody who wants to become close to God, is that you're the one responsible for the closeness and intimacy that you have with him. In fact, I want to tell you right now, if you're not close and intimate with him in a relationship, it's your fault, not His. It is always His desire to be close to His children.

The psalmist said, in Psalm 139, "Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts to see if there is any offensive way in me, and then lead me into the way everlasting."

The psalmist took personal responsibility and became very vulnerable and transparent before God..

2.  Spend time with God.

Spending time together in any relationship does not necessarily bring intimacy, but it's impossible to be intimate without spending time together. You need to have some time alone with the Lord and it has to be more than just a Sunday morning experience. If this is the only time that you really read the Word, or really pray, or sing praise choruses to God, or get your spiritual food, you're in trouble. You need to spend some time alone with God.

I'm not telling you what time to spend with the Lord. Some of you are morning people. If you are, you ought to spend your morning time with God. Some of you are evening people. You ought to spend your evening time with God. If you're a evening person, you probably shouldn't spend a lot of time in the morning with God because if you did, you wouldn't know what happened. I'm not here to put you in a pigeonhole or give you a time slot. What I am saying is that if you really want to be close to God, you've got to have some time alone with Him on a very consistent, regular basis. There's a major difference between spiritual discipline and legalism. And when we talk about spending time alone with God, there's a tendency to become legalistic.

The difference between spiritual discipline and legalism:

A. Spiritual discipline attempts to focus on God by doing certain things.

B.  Legalism attempts to gain favor from God by doing certain things.

So when I say, "Have time alone with God," I’m not saying it because God's going to love you more. Do it because that's the only way to become intimate with Him.

Spiritual disciplines needed for growth:

A.  Time alone with God.

B.  Accountability.

C.  Application.

D.  Mentoring.

E.  Measurement.

Now, before I go on, the most important thing I can say is, when you spend time alone with God, you do three different things. You either are in prayer and meditation, or you're reading the Word, or you're in some type of worship and praise. Maybe it's singing praise choruses or listening to Christian music tapes and singing along with them.

Now, let me just do a little survey this morning. Let me ask you which of those three are your favorite functions. Which do you like to do? Is it your favorite thing to pray, read the Word, or worship and sing praise choruses? Now, I want to tell you exactly what it was. It's almost, literally, divided in thirds. Now, is there a right and a wrong way? No. But I want to tell you how to have a good time alone with God. Whatever you like to do best, that's what you should do first in your time alone with God. That will be the emotional hook, because you look forward to that the most. It will get you into that discipline of a regular time alone with God. So whatever it is, start there and work your way in.

3.  Avoid things that dull your spiritual sensitivity.

“Anything that dulls our desire for God, to us it is sin.” Susanna Wesley

Anything that takes the edge off of spiritual growth becomes sin to you. Now, I'm not here to tell you what that is because it's going to be different things for different people. But the moment you lose your desire to be with God, whatever it is that takes that away from you, is sin. 

4. Seek to please God.

I'm talking about having what I call an “other” mindset. When you dated, remember how you nurtured that romance by thinking of the other person and putting the other person first? Isn't that true? You nurtured that relationship by trying to please the other person. You didn't nurture that relationship by trying to please yourself. When romance goes out of a marriage or a dating or a courtship, it's because we try to live for ourselves.  Now I'm saying in that relationship with God, have the “other” mindset. Walk into it with a desire to always please and put him first in your life.

5.  Reflect on what God is doing in your life.

The result is intimacy and gratitude.

Whenever Margaret and I take our kids anywhere, they know there's a question we always ask them. We never do anything without asking them after we're done: “What was your favorite thing about the trip or the event that we participated in?” In fact, yesterday we were in the Dallas airport having a little pizza together. We'd been at my be Mom and Dad's 50th anniversary. I asked the kids, "What was your very favorite thing that you did on that trip?" They're always ready because they know Dad's going to ask the question.

You know what I'm doing? I'm helping them remember all the good things so that they have gratitude for the blessings that God's given us. When you grow intimate in your relationship, one of the first things you do is reflect on all the good things that God's doing for you.

6.  Spend time with Christians who model intimacy.

Intimacy is more caught than taught.

Find somebody that just walks close to God and be around them. It's what I call the "Hot Poker Principle." You put the poker in the fire, and it gets warm.

7.  Participate in a forum that encourages intimacy.

Be in a group. It may be a Sunday school class or a HOME group. It may be prayer partners. It may be one‑on‑one discipleship. Be in some kind of a ministry group that allows for intimacy in your walk with God.

8.  Practice intimacy with your family.

This is so important. You know, intimacy is the glue that holds families together, and that's a fact. Your family can have all kinds of problems, but if there's an intimate relationship, it is the glue that will hold you together in spite of the tough times. Many people are uncomfortable with being intimate with God. So I encourage them, "Be intimate with somebody you love, and then transfer it over to God." If you have a hard time being intimate with your family, you're going to have a very hard time becoming intimate with God.

There's a great connection between my relationship with people and my relationship with God. When I have a great love for people, I have a great love for God. When I have a good relationship vertically, I can have one horizontally.

9.  Always ask, “What would Jesus do?”

What a wonderful, simple question. Asking that question will help you and me to only do the things that would please him. It will help us to have what I call a "God-consciousness."

10. Understand success in God's eyes.

CONCLUSION

I love God’s statement on success. Thus says the Lord, "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast of his might, and let not the rich man boast of his riches. But let him who boasts, boast in this, that he understands that he knows me, that I am the Lord that exercises loving kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth. For I delight in these things," declares the Lord. Our Lord said that when we come to the table, we do it in remembrance of Him. I'm going to ask the stewards to take their places, please. I'm going to ask the pastors to come forward. Prepare your heart now. Let's bow our heads as we come to the table. You are welcome if you know Jesus Christ as personal Savior. You need not be a member of Skyline; just of the family of Jesus Christ.

Father, thank you for the gift of your Son, and eternal life, as we come now to participate and hold the elements: The bread and the cup. We do in remembrance of you. As we sing some wonderful songs that help us reflect on the cross of Jesus, we worship and we love you. And most of all, we want to be close to you. It's in your Son's name we pray.

Let's turn our eyes upon Him now, and focus upon His goodness, His blessings. We've come to the table in remembrance of His sacrifice on the cross. We remember without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. Every one of us has the hope of eternal life, as the price that Jesus paid on the cross for our sins. What an awesome, wonderful God He is. Let's focus on Him. Father, as we come into your presence today, we realize that the greatest gift ever given to mankind is your Son, Jesus Christ. We recognize today that we could not, in any way, ever earn our salvation. Every good and perfect gift was made possible when your Son, Jesus, went to the cross to pay for our sins. And so Lord, we hold the elements in our hand, we recognize that you are the source and the bread is the symbol of the body which was broken and bruised for our sins. Let's take the bread together in the name of Jesus. Thank you for the blood, that life giving power. In the name of Jesus and in remembrance for what was done, let's drink together. Hallelujah. Hallelujah, praise the Lamb. Let's stand together. Terry, lead us. Let's sing, worship him now. And all of God's people said, amen. 

TODAY'S MESSAGE:
"Together...I Can Experience Intimacy"
Psalm 63

Good news:

God is ___________ me to watch over me.          Psalms 91; 92:1-4

Therefore, I should ___________ in God.

 

God is ___________ me to show me the way.       Psalm 23:3-4

Therefore, I should ___________on God.

 

God is ___________me to give me courage.        Psalm 27:1-6

Therefore, I should ___________ for God.

 

God is ___________ me to bless my life.           Psalm 63

Therefore, I should ___________ to God.

 

God is ___________, and He knows me intimately.  Psalm 139

Therefore, I should ___________ in God.

 Bad news:

Our sinful nature causes us to...

1. ___________ God.

2. ___________ from God.

3. ___________ for our sin.

Ten commandments to develop intimacy: 

1. Take ___________ responsibility for becoming intimate with God. The Psalmist said to God, “Search me and test me.”

 2. ___________ with God.

The difference between spiritual discipline and legalism:

A.  Spiritual discipline attempts to ___________ on God by doing certain things.

B.  Legalism attempts to ___________ from God by doing certain things.

Spiritual disciplines needed for growth:

A. ___________                                                                                

B. ___________                                                                                     

C. ___________        

D. ___________

E. ___________                                  

3. ___________ things that ___________ your spiritual sensitivity.

“Anything that dulls our desire for God, to us it is sin.”  Susanna Wesley

4. Seek to ___________ God.      II Corinthians 5:9-10

How do I please God?  By putting Him first in my thoughts.

5.  ___________ what God is doing in your life.

The result is ___________ and ___________.                                  .        

6. Spend time with Christians who ___________ intimacy.

Intimacy is more  ___________ than ___________ .

7. Participate in a forum that  ___________ intimacy.

8. ___________ intimacy with your family.

9.  Always ask, “ ___________?”

10.  Understand ___________ in God’s eyes.    

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