Tag Archives: intimacy with God

When God seems Distant

Our experience of God’s closeness doesn’t indicate His actual proximity to us. It may, however, reveal our level of intimacy with Him. The more we love God, the more intimate we will become with Him. It is often due to a lack of intimacy when we feel distant from God.

Intimacy is the highest level of communion in any personal relationship. It requires honesty, humility, vulnerability, and constant communication. Intimacy does not often happen in a Church service, a Bible study, or other public meetings. It usually happens behind closed doors where no one else is around. Looking honestly at how we worship and love the Lord when alone will locate our level of love for the Lord.

Why are love and intimacy with God so important in spiritual warfare? Because we are fighting for Him. His purpose, plans, and battle strategies become apparent when we are intimate with Him. It purifies our motives and clarifies our perspectives. It strengthens us for battle and gives us a vision of His victory. More than any other thing we can do, pursuing intimacy with the Father is most important. It is the fastest way to become everything He paid for.

Quoted from the book, The Spiritual Warfare Manifesto

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

The Cost of Spiritual Maturity.

         Christians follow others for many reasons. Personality, charisma, doctrine, integrity, social status, etc. The reason most people follow a Christian leader is because of the relationship with God that is evident in their life. All great Christian leaders have one thing in common, a genuinely intimate relationship with God that is obvious to all.

          The reason God sent Jesus was to restore man to an intimate relationship with Himself. The message of the Gospel is one of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration of relationships. It is the removal of all barriers that stand between God and man. Jesus is our peacemaker. If a Christian is not continually growing in this revelation, and living out this truth, he/she is not able to reach their full potential as a leader. 

Ephesians 2:14-18 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

          A leader’s influence should be used to bring others into a deeper relationship with the Father. Deep down this is what we all want. This can only be done by example first and teaching second. It is impossible to lead someone to a deeper relationship with God than you have personally experienced. No matter how good a teacher we may be. we can’t lead anyone to a place we’ve never been. Jesus said of Himself; “I am the way, the truth, and the life… John 14:6

If we don’t know “The Way,” we can’t show the way.

          Jesus is the example of leadership that we must follow. We can look at His life and glean many leadership principles that we can live by, but I will only address one main principle that we see Him practice throughout the gospels. The practice of being intimate with the Father.
          There are no shortcuts to intimacy, it costs time, discipline, effort, devotion, and commitment. Above all, it requires a love for Him. Pursuing intimacy with the Father is the greatest indication of our love for God and the greatest investment we can make in ourselves and others. Our faith will only rise to the level of our love for God.

          Jesus paid the price to restore our relationship with the Father. Are we paying the price to nurture and develop that relationship? This is a question we all must answer for ourselves. Intimacy with God is what leads us to maturity. Many Christians follow others because of their “spiritual gifting,” not understanding that gifting can easily be manifest without spiritual maturity.

Spiritual Gifts are Free, Maturity is Expensive

          Our identity is not found in our gifting or our calling, but in our relationship with the Father. Apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher is not who we are, it is how we were created to serve. We must find our identity in our loving relationship with the Father, not our gifting.

          Disciples are made when people willingly follow you, and your living example. If you make disciples apart from intimacy with the Father, what are you reproducing? Do we really need two or more like you?
Our priority should be a growing relationship with the Father. We should be cautious of having followers if there are any other priorities above that.

          A leader can easily get distracted from spending intimate time with the Lord. A common trap is to replace being alone with God and pursuing intimacy in that relationship with the busyness of religious activity.  Another trap is to allow our “quiet time” or “devotion time” with the Lord to become a lifeless activity where we go through the motions and never connect with God on an intimate level. We can read a daily chapter or two, run through our laundry list of prayer requests, and never take time to be quiet and listen to the one we are talking to. I have been guilty of this myself. It is tragic to become lifeless in our devotions to God and call it a relationship.

            We can learn about God from reading and studying the Bible, but to truly know Him, we must spend time with Him, commune with Him, and listen to Him.

          Jesus set our greatest example. He only did what He saw the Father do. This demands a lifestyle of watching and praying. It’s not always convenient or comfortable, but it is always necessary.

          If you read my biography, you can learn a lot about me, but you can’t honestly say that you know me. You may “feel like you know me,” but to truly know me, you must spend time with me, ask me questions, and listen to my responses, spend time with me. It is the same with God.

          When intimacy becomes a lifestyle, reading the Bible takes on new dimensions and bears much more fruit in our lives. We begin to view His written word through His divine nature, we see it with an unveiled face and a heart of love that makes us more sensitive to His spoken word. This is when the scriptures begin to come alive for us.

          The Lord taught me a powerful lesson about who I am, and I would like to share it with you.
I pray often that God would live in me and through me in fullness. That people would see Him in me. I remember some time ago, ministering to a lady on the phone one day, she asked me if I was a Pastor. I said “No, my wife is a pastor,” The Lord then spoke to me in the middle of this phone conversation and said, “But I Am a Pastor, and if you deny Me that expression in your life I can’t answer your prayer to live through you in fullness.”

          God was showing me that titles and labels don’t define who we are, He does. Many times we limit His expression through our lives because our words and beliefs are not aligned with His heart. It gives us a twisted view of our identity. Intimacy with God not only gives us an understanding of who He is, but it also shapes our beliefs and gives us an understanding of who we are in Him.

          Who we think we are, must come second to who He wants us to be at any given moment. He showed me that He is the embodiment of the five-fold ministry and if we will maintain intimacy with Him and be sensitive to His desires He will be free to move through us and touch lives in ways that we could never do through our strength and ability.

Ephesians 4:11-16 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

          Without intimacy. we will not produce the fruit of who He is in our lives. May we grow in this wonderful relationship until we love as He loves.

          As we seek Him, we will find Him. As we draw close to Him. He draws close to us. As we embrace Him, He will embrace us. We love Him because He first loved us. He proved His love by laying down His life for us. May we lay down our lives for Him. He is worthy

          He is worthy of our attention, our affection, our life, and He is worthy of our death should it be required. He is worthy!

Forgotten God #5 video

Forgotten God #5 discussion topics
  1. How would you describe your closest relationship with another human?
  2. What makes that relationship so special?
  3. How would you describe your relationship with God?
  4. How do you invest in, nurture, and protect the relationships you value the most?
  5. Are you a good listener when you are relating to others, including God?

Spiritual Warfare #6 ~ Love and Intimacy

          Love is at the heart of intimacy. The more we love someone, the closer we desire to be with them, and the closer we allow them to us. We cannot be intimate with a person we don’t love. The more we love someone, the more we trust them and believe in them. This helps us understand why faith only works by love.

Galatians 5:6 (AMP) For [if we are] in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but only faith activated and expressed and working through love.

          Faith in God is based on our love for Him, and our love for Him is expressed through our faith in His word. Jesus is God’s word made flesh.(John 1:14)

         As Jesus was preparing himself for the cross, He was also preparing His disciples for the time when He would not physically be there with them. In John 14 we see a marvelous dialogue between Jesus and his disciples. Pay attention to the emphasis of this chapter.

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 

John 14:21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

John 14:22-23 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “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. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

          Judas asked a very important question. “How will You manifest yourself to us and not the world?” Jesus said, “by loving me,” (my paraphrase) Then He told us that love for Him is expressed, through obedience to His word.

          In verse 23 we have an amazing promise that God will make His home in us if we love Him like this. I can’t think of a more powerful promise in the entire Bible.

          Our New Testament command is to love. According to the three verses above. demonstration of our love for God is shown through obedience to His word. It is our greatest act of faith. Without obedience, Jesus said we do not love Him. The Church, for the most part, has not let that sink in.

          Intimacy requires obedience. Obedience is God’s “love language.”

          I remember years ago, in a private time of worship and prayer, I blurted out, “Lord, I love you so much!” He then said to me, “How much do you love me?” Without hesitation, I said, “With all my heart Lord!” He spoke again, “Jack, that is not enough.” It felt like a punch in the gut, but He immediately brought this scripture to mind.

Mark 12:30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

          I then realized that “loving God with all my heart is only 25% of what this verse is commanding me to do.” God was showing me that I was created to love Him like He loves me. With every fiber of my being.

          Honestly, I had to ask the Lord to show me how to love Him with my soul, mind, and strength. If fact, this happened over 25 years ago, and I am still processing this truth.

          The chief expression of love is selfless giving. (“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son…) We must have the courage to ask ourselves; What are we giving our soul, our emotions, and our mind to? What do we give our strengths, giftings and talents to? What do we give our time and attention to? What we love and worship can be clearly identified by what we give our time and attention to.

John 15:9-14 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 

          Our experience of God’s nearness or distance is not an indication of his actual proximity to us, but of our level of intimacy with Him. The more we love God, the more intimate we will be with Him. When we feel distant from God, it is often due to a lack of intimacy.

          Intimacy is the highest level of communion in any relationship. It requires honesty, humility, vulnerability, and constant communication. Intimacy does not happen in a Church service, a Bible study, or any other public meeting. Intimacy happens behind closed doors. Taking an honest look at how we worship and love the Lord when no one else is around will locate our level of love for the Lord.

          Why is love and intimacy so important in spiritual warfare? Because He is the one we are fighting for. His purpose, His plans, and His strategies for battle become clear when we are intimate with Him. It purifies our motives and clarifies our perspectives. More than any other thing we can do, it strengthens us for battle and gives us a vision for His victory.

          A lifestyle of intimacy with God is characterized by great joy.

1 Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

For more lessons on Spiritual Warfare CLICK HERE.

 Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC

Spiritual Warfare #5 ~ The Religious Spirit

Romans 5:5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

           One of Satan’s most deceptive attacks is to pervert the love of God and the expression of the kingdom of God that has been sown in our hearts. One of the ways he does this is through religious spirits.

A religious spirit holds to form, tradition, and the letter of the law, instead of embracing the spirit of the law. We see clear examples of this in the Pharisees and Sadducees. A religious spirit renders the Church weak and powerless by quenching the Holy Spirit’s ministry through believers and replacing it with a works mentality. It promotes a slave/servant mentality instead of a son/daughter mentality. It causes us to serve God FOR approval instead of serving Him from a place OF approval.

Unfortunately, most of the Church is in some form of bondage to these religious spirits.

Knowing God and understanding who we are in Him hinges on our understanding of love.

By twisting our beliefs and perverting our ideas of who and what love is, the devil keeps us from truly knowing God and therefore prevents us from understanding who we are in Him. Satan consistently attacks our identity as sons and daughters of God through attacking our revelation and understanding of who and what Love is. The devil attacks us on this front through religious spirits.

           A religious spirit is manifest in many ways, but one of the most obvious is to substitute religious activity for the demonstration of the kingdom of God and the true power of the Holy Spirit. A religious spirit finds its expression in “the leaven” of false teachings and doctrines of devils.

Matthew 16:6 Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

          Jesus called their teaching “leaven” because it adds no substance, life, or value to the church. Instead, their teachings were puffed up with religious pride, promoting traditions of men and focusing on works and religious activity. It holds to a form of godliness but denies the power of the Holy Spirit. (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

          Many times, a religious spirit will attach itself to us even though we love God and are zealous for God and His kingdom. Look at what Paul said about his Jewish brothers.

Romans 10:2-4 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

          Just because someone has a religious spirit does not mean they don’t love God. The Jewish people prayed, fasted, and read the scriptures more than anyone. They were zealous for God and the coming Messiah, yet they were so deceived by religious spirits that they did not recognize Jesus when He came. They opposed Him in His ministry and eventually killed him. This gives us an idea of how blinding and deceptive a religious spirit can be.

          Notice in the above passage that their “zeal was not according to knowledge,” and they were ignorant (no knowledge) of the righteousness of God. Ignorance is easily fixed in most cases, but a religious spirit resists any doctrine that challenges them and calls for change and repentance. Those bound by religious spirits are easily offended and quick to defend their doctrinal positions.

          Our imputed righteousness is one of the foundational truths that solidifies our identity in Christ. Without an understanding of righteousness, we will not submit to it. Without submission to righteousness our identity as sons and daughters will never become clear. Satan fights desperately to keep us from this truth. He knows that if we ever find out who we are, we will destroy his works just like Jesus did. (1 John 3:8)

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

          We must BECOME the righteousness of God while being patient with those afflicted with religious spirits, giving them time to gain understanding and repent. This does not mean we should endorse, support, or tolerate their ministry while we are being patient with them. The Lord even gave Jezebel “time to repent” (Revelation 2:20-21) yet He still rebuked the church for tolerating her.

Here are some of the signs that expose a religious spirit:

  1. A belief that our ministry is to expose others and their “false doctrines.”
  2. Pride in our spiritual maturity or our giftings.
  3. Living in condemnation and shame, believing we will never measure up to God’s standards.
  4. A mechanical prayer life or devotional time that goes through the motions without being intimate with Him.
  5. Glorying in what God has done in the past more than what He is doing now.
  6. Doing things so people will notice.
  7. Overreacting to those who are immature in the Lord.
  8. Overreacting to carnality in the church.
  9. Engaging in emotionalism and calling it the Holy Spirit.
  10. Inability to take correction from peers or leaders.
  11. A tendency to reject any manifestation of the Holy Spirit we don’t understand.
  12. Knowing a lot about God, but not knowing Him intimately.

I must confess, I have been guilty of all 12 items on this list. I am grateful the Lord is patient with me, giving me time to repent. It was not until I really humbled myself and sought intimacy with the Lord that freedom came. Intimacy will transform us quicker than anything.

          Without intimacy with God, it can be difficult to break free from a religious spirit and impossible to stay free. A lifestyle of intimacy with Him is the best first step I believe.

          We don’t reproduce without intimacy. If we are not intimate with our Lord, we won’t reproduce the fruit of who He is in our lives. Let us make sure we are cultivating an intimate relationship with God first so we can lead others to do the same.

For more lessons on Spiritual Warfare CLICK HERE.

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC