Becoming Intimate With Jesus

Being intimate with God is how we get a headstart on heaven.  It is the beginning of so much for the Christian.  Along the way, it is much like the tide, our affections ebb and flow.  Patience then becomes the rule. In many ways, this is a ‘seasonal’ walk. We experience all four seasons.

Here are some simple quotes on the topic of Christian intimacy.  I so want you to be blessed by these.

This is the place the Holy Spirit is taking us as believers. Honestly, I find that life has no meaning without His incredible presence.

Open your hearts to the love God instills… God loves you tenderly. What He gives you is not to be kept under lock and key but to be shared.  — Mother Teresa

Did you never run for shelter in a storm, and find fruit which you expected not? Did you never go to God for safeguard, driven by outward storms, and there find unexpected fruit? –John Owen

I long to be filled with divine knowledge, divine wisdom, divine love, divine holiness, to the utmost extent of my capacity. I want to feel that all the currents of my soul are interfused in one channel deep and wide, and all flowing towards the heart of Christ.
–Griffith John

A man who is intimate with God will never be intimidated by men.
— Leonard Ravenhill

God sometimes shuts the door and shuts us in, that He may speak, perchance through grief or pain, and softly, heart to heart, above the din, may tell some precious thought to us again.
— Anonymous

We should go into His presence as a child goes to his father. We do it with reverence and godly fear, of course, but we should go with a childlike confidence and simplicity.
— Martyn Lloyd-Jones

How do you approach the thirst of Jesus? Only one secret – the closer you come to Jesus, the better you will know His thirst. Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor – He knows your weakness, He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you. — Mother Teresa

Jesus, within you I lose myself, without You, I find myself searching to be lost again. — Anonymous

There come times when I have nothing more to tell God. If I were to continue to pray in words, I would have to repeat what I have already said. At such times it is wonderful to say to God, “May I be in Thy presence, Lord? I have nothing more to say to Thee, but I do love to be in Thy presence.” — O. Hallesby

What I believe is so magnificent, so glorious, that it is beyond finite comprehension. To believe that the universe was created by a purposeful, benign Creator is one thing. To believe that this Creator took on human vesture, accepted death and mortality, was tempted, betrayed, broken, and all for love of us, defies reason. It is so wild that it terrifies some Christians who try to dogmatize their fear by lashing out at other Christians, because tidy Christianity with all answers given is easier than one which reaches out to the wild wonder of God’s love, a love we don’t even have to earn.
— Madeleine L’Engle

The love I bear Christ is but a faint and feeble spark, but it is an emanation from himself: He kindled it and he keeps it alive; and because it is his work, I trust many waters shall not quench it.
— John Newton

I lay my head upon Thy infinite heart,
I hide beneath the shelter of Thy wing;
Pursued and tempted, helpless, I must cling
To Thee, my Father; bid me not depart,
For sin and death pursue,
And Life is where Thou art!
— Anonymous

Obedience deepens our intimacy with Jesus. If we want to know the Father, we must not only love Him, but also obey Him. Scripture is clear that it is important to know the Father through His Word, and if we want to be a part of what the Father is doing and to be able to see where He is moving then it is clear that we must obey His commands. It is important to be biblically literate, but we must also be biblically obedient!  — John Wimber

There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God. — Brother Lawrence

I so hope that just one of these quotes resonate something in your spirit.

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Discipleship is Intimacy

Intimacy with Jesus

There is so much good about any emphasis the Church puts on discipleship.  We pray, fast, and study the Bible better than any other generation.  We have as our pastors and teachers men and women equipped in our seminaries in Greek and Hebrew, educated in counseling and Church growth.  We are doing missions with the best of them.

But there is something amiss.  I believe we have misplaced intimacy.  Our worship services seem mechanical.  We are no longer in a wild love affair with the One who really matters.  We no longer just spontaneously think of Him, crying out for His mercy and love.

It could be that the evangelical Church in America has passed its expiration date.  We have grown confused, and have struggled with an emptiness that is at the core of a legalistic and a works dominated life.  We do not cry out with a passionate love for Him who desperately wants to hold us close.

The Book of Song of Solomon is the love story between a shepherdess and her beloved.  This love is a love that envelops and controls a person’s entire being.  Her love is intense as well as thirsty.  She needs her shepherd.  There is an element of being ‘lovesick’ and never settling for a second best relationship with her beloved.

Biblical discipleship must always be intimacy with Jesus.

In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul writes about his deep concern for that particular Church,

2 “For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent.”

There is jealousy involved here (which is suspect by us) and a foolishness (which is embarrassing) and is emotional.  This passage suggests a higher and purer following of Jesus that Satan wants to corrupt.  Paul was concerned that these Corinthians would not be a pure bride.  He got jealous over their vulnerability. He believed that they would miss the bridal love that they possessed.

I want to challenge you to keep the innocence of your relationship with Jesus. Guard it and refuse to be led away from its simple devotion.  Love with a white hot love.  Learn the language of romance again and remember that your discipleship is not an end in itself.  Biblical discipleship is intimacy with Jesus. We must settle on this in our hearts. The true foundation of discipleship can only be a kind of ‘first love’.

“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!”

Revelation 2:4

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Jesus is Our Closest Friend

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“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”

John 15:15

Jesus Christ is our closest and best Friend. He definitely intends to provide everything we need. No want can be unsupplied. No sorrow will go uncomforted. Truly nothing dark can master us. For time and eternity we are safe in his care. It will not be the streets of gold, and the gates of pearl, and the river and the trees, that will make heaven for us—it will be the companionship, the friendship of Christ. Our hearts can never find true peace without Him drawing close to us.  He is aggressive in this, Jesus pulls Himself as close as we allow.

flourish-65 “…The consciousness that Christ is our Friend and we are His should check every evil thought, quell every bitter feeling, sweeten every emotion, and make all our life holy, true and heavenly.”

J.R. Miller

It is a joy to Jesus when a person takes time to walk more intimately with Him. The bearing of fruit is always shown in Scripture to be a visible result of an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Oswald Chambers

“O, the fullness, the pleasure, the sheer excitement of knowing God here on earth.”

Jim Elliott

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Mary Magdalene and Jesus

“Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

16 “Mary!” Jesus said.

She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

John 20:15-16, NLT

 A word, a name– and when He speaks it, it crackles.  “Mary!”  His recognition and affection saturates His greeting.  And instantly Mary ignites.  Her love for Jesus breaches the chasm.  Her heart bounds to Him, and she can see no one else.  Simply, “Mary”, and her routine universe is changed forever.

The Lord does not see masses, or crowds.  He sees people, individuals that have names.  He simply doesn’t accept the idea of mass communications to make disciples.  His heart is for individuals.   He does not make styrofoam cups, He makes individual people. And that is exactly how He responds.

Her immediate response is just as forthcoming.  “Rabboni”.  The simple Hebrew word for “teacher”.  Obviously her relationship with Jesus has infused this word with much more then meets the eye.  As we trace her history with Jesus we develop a deep understanding into her psyche.And much more, her walk.

You might say that Mary was well acquainted with spiritual things– for her it was almost exclusively evil. Mark 16 tells us of seven demons that tormented her. Jesus had cast these dark powers out of her. She understood.

Just one word,’Teacher’.  The word has deep and strong connotations.  Primarily, it has the concept of someone superior and yet exercising that gift in a quality way.  Mary has been given a quite exceptional gift.  An opportunity to be a student who sits at Jesus’ feet.  She now knows God to be enfolded into flesh and blood.  She is perfectly aware of Jesus as human.  She makes her faith ‘jump” to deity level.  She believes He is much more then what is visible.

Her ‘turning’ to Jesus is remarkable, in that she is still not quite there yet.  However she turns to look at Him who now has risen out of death.  She already has evaluated all of this and she decides to ‘turn into the wind.’  She is now ‘ready to launch’.  Mary has arrived at the very place Jesus has intended.  She now launches, against the wind, and really because of the wind.

Jesus fully intends to make us disciples.  A significant step is simply to glorify Him who means so much.  Embracing Him as God is a serious and brave step.  Actually, it is a ‘reality shifting’ concept that will change us.  That does not mean we can stop struggling, or wrestling (or whatever we want).  But what it does mean is that certain things are now established.  We can now flow with Him who will take us to the true hope that waits for us in eternity. Will you trust Him that far?

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Becoming a Part of What is Really Real

 

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“Six days later, three of them saw that glory. Jesus took Peter and the brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. Sunlight poured from his face. His clothes were filled with light.”

Matthew 17:1-2, The Message

These three disciples belonged to the inner circle of our Lord’s friends. There must have been something in them that peculiarly endeared them to Him. We know that Peter was a leader among the apostles, and also a bold confessor; that John was “the disciple whom Jesus loved;” and that James was the first of the band to die as a martyr.

It is very encouraging to look at Peter who was admitted to such high privileges; a man with so many faults, who made so many mistakes, who even at the last shamefully denied Christ, and yet we remember that he was one of our Lord’s closest friends. It gives encouragement to us that, with all our faults, we may yet be very dear to Christ.

It does not seem so strange that John was allowed to enter the inner circle. His disposition was gentle and amiable, very much like the Master’s. Yet it is probable that John owed his sweetness and gentleness of character to his being with Jesus. It could be he was not always a man of love.

rose-little1There is a Persian fable of a piece of clay made fragrant by lying on a rose; the perfume of the rose passed into the clay. So it probably was with John. He crept into his Master’s bosom, and lay close to His heart; and his Master’s spirit of love and gentleness passed into his life and transformed it. Thus we have a lesson, too, from John: constant and loving communion with Christ will change us into His likeness.

The lesson from this choosing of three out of the whole band for peculiar privileges is that while Jesus loves all His friends, there are certain ones whom He takes into closer confidence than the others. There are degrees of nearness to Him, even in this world. Should we not strive to be among those who, by disposition and by service, win their way to the closest places? We must remember that those who serve most are chiefest. –JRM

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kyrie elesion, Bryan

(Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner)
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More Like a Romantic Kiss

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“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
For your love is better than wine.
3 Because of the fragrance of your good ointments,
Your name is ointment poured forth;
Therefore the virgins love you.
4 Draw me away! “

Song of Solomon 1:2-4

“Dear God, I think about you sometimes even when I am not praying.” 

Elliot, “Children’s Letters to God”

It may seem heretical, but it seems that spiritual growth is being reduced to ‘bullet points’ of a presentation. And that really does scare me.  We are looking to fall into a trap ‘head over heels’ right into a place that has promised so much, and yet delivers so little. We have been reduced to a mindset of which the ‘disciplines’ of the Christian life have become formulaic, and  robotical.  Somehow, we are missing the purpose as our discipleship begins to grow hard and slowly turns to stone.

But a kiss, on the other hand, is undefinable; it can’t be quantified and defies rules.

I fear the formula, and repudiate the rules.  I am disturbed that our discipleship can become self-moving, self-regulating, self-starting.

When will realize that Jesus is looking for lovers?  Somehow we think we can extract romance, diminish intimacy and choose to walk mechanically through life.  We are losing our created and given purpose to be in close fellowship with Him.

There is a monstrous industry in all of this, a callous system. With the absence of an intimacy with Jesus, the following will actually become dangerous.

  • formulas, counselors, life-coaches
  • training programs,
  • media: books, podcasts, TV
  • conferences, prophetic worship
  • magazines, “special” books
  • inspirational speakers, favorite Bible teachers
  • and even websites, (like this one!)

We often turn to them to get what we think we need. The delusion is that we can become moral and true, without an intimacy with Jesus. I guarantee this, without a deep intimacy with Him, these “things” will invariably disappoint us. But truly, we seldom do intimacy well.

Authentic growth will not happen overnight.  Many get so disappointed, and disillusioned that they just quit walking and become hardened aand very unhappy. They may or may not become apostate. The Lord sees them, and loves them at a distance.

We can’t use the above list, but the Holy Spirit can.  He uses these things, but there can never be confusion on who is working. I must relate to Him and strengthened in His strength.  I must be as intimate as I can in His presence.

There can never be an authentic spirituality, without a real romance with Jesus We must be taken up with Him and enthralled.  We must recover the “courtship of the Lord.” Prayer starts to become a passionate tryst, and worship an affair of the heart.  This where we meet begin to meet him directly, and authentically.

For good people, God is a religion. For the saints he is a kiss and an embrace.

Passion, and not principles (even if they are noble ones) will carry the day. It’s about desperation, not obligation.  I will be the first to admit that these maybe these differences seem subtle and trivial, but they’re not.  Romance brings roses to a rendezvous, with a passionate and openly declared ‘first love.’ Yet so often we shuffle in and grovel to bring our list of things we need or want. Few be the lovers, that find true contentment and freedom and real peace when they are alone with their Beloved.

 

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iPod Theology: How to Get Closer Yet

I love gadgets.  Those veritable wonders of technology.  Typically overpriced with a short lifespan, but they still amaze me.  I saw something a few months ago that clicked with me; it was incredible. (But I can be a real geek sometimes.)

It was a platform, made to look like a classic varnished wood tray.  But what it was, was a charging station.  You laid all your iPods, cell phones, Blackberrys and Androids on this pad, and in the morning they would be charged and ready to use.  No need to plug them in, they were instead were juiced by lying on this special platform.

I’m not certain that this constitutes one of life’s necessities.  But a few days ago I began to think about the spiritual significance of this, and how we receive our strength. It’s not really often that this happens to me.

The Apostle John was one who was energized with his contact with Jesus.  He drew strength from being in close proximity with Him.  If there was ever a discipleship challenge it was John–one of the “sons of thunder”.  Full of energy, he could be vindictive, intolerant, self-righteous and very ambitious.  He was confronted by Jesus on more than one occasions for arrogance.  And yet, he was perhaps the man most transformed by being with Jesus.

John stood at the foot of the cross, holding and soothing Mary.  He went on to preach several notable sermons in the Book of Acts (with Peter).  He wrote much of the New Testament, including Revelation.  His books of 1, 2 and 3 John are known for the subject of Christian love.  Ten times he told early believers that they were to “love each other”, and that would be their mark of authenticity.

Something happened to John.  He was energized by love for Jesus, his Savior.  We see him at the Last Supper, leaning on his Lord.  It appears he just drew close, and rested his head on his friend.  He became known, as “the disciple that Jesus loved”. I believe that love very often begets love.

As a struggling and imperfect believer myself, I find that when I’m near Jesus, I become strong.  Psalms talks about “the nearness of God is my good.”  Christianity is different than other world religions in that it is built on a living (resurrected) Lord who we are to be in communication with, and to have an ongoing relationship with.  There should be a deliberate and planned intimacy between God and believers. 

Its a lot like that charging station I spoke about earlier.  I come to Him, and rest, just enjoying His presence.  Something happens.  I am encouraged and energized.  Leaning on Jesus I become strong.  Being in close proximity with Him gives my Christian life a vitality.  I get drained, and functioning isn’t possible (I try).  I get the urge (like John) to call down fire from heaven on my enemies, and then push myself into the limelight to be noticed.

Dear one, I beg of you to draw close to Him today.  Get into His presence, just be with Him; and all of hell will try to stop you.  But Jesus has promised that “He will never leave us, or forsake us.”

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“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,That I may tell of all Your works.”

–Psalm 73:28